Honoka’a Western Week is Coming Around the Bend!

Cowboys and horses on parade, a rollicking block party with dancing in the streets, local vendors, Big Island steak fry, Saloon Girl and new “Cowboys Got Talent” competitions, plus rodeo action in the refurbished Honoka‘a Arena and more make for an exciting roundup of paniolo festivities for Honoka‘a Western Week, May 17-26, 2014.

PHOTOS by Sarah Anderson Photography

PHOTOS by Sarah Anderson Photography

One of the most highly-anticipated events of the year, Honoka‘a Western Week (HWW) lets the usually-quiet, former sugar cane plantation town kick up its heels and celebrate a century-old paniolo heritage. The unique cultural blend of rodeo sports, high-energy events, music, food, and education offers visitors and kama‘āina of all ages a whole herd of ways to have fun.
Honoka'a Cowboys
Leading off with the Paniolo Parade on Friday afternoon, the HWW team will close down Mamane Street for its popular Block Party, featuring country-style music, a sizzling steak fry fundraiser hosted by the Honoka‘a High School Soccer and Track Teams, and a fun lineup of contests and events. A major highlight is the Saloon Girl contest, starring bold and beautiful women, young and young-at-heart, who strut their stuff in a talent and personality competition for the cowboys onstage.

Salon GirlsNot to be outdone, the cowboys will vie for titles of their own, as will stick horse riders, and the best chili cooks around. In the days leading up to HWW, businesses, decorated western-style, invite everyone to dress up in their best cowboy boots, hats and duds, and help bring back the spirit of a wilder time.

And, premiering the newly renovated Honoka‘a Arena, the 58th Annual Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo kicks into action, starting with “Saturday Slack,” an elimination round. Then cowboys, keiki and wahine are put through their paces Sunday-Monday, competing for buckles, saddles and prize money. Unique-to-Hawai‘i rodeo events, like Po‘o Wai‘u, are in the lineup, along with bull riding, calf roping, bareback and saddle bronc events, sheep riding for the keiki and much more.

PHOTOS by Sarah Anderson Photography

PHOTOS by Sarah Anderson Photography

In its 58-year history, the Rodeo has awarded thousands in scholarship funds to high school seniors island-wide as well as continuing education scholars. Taking place in the newly-restored arena, this year’s Rodeo promises to be better than ever, with new covered bleachers, restrooms, concession stand and other improvements.

More events, concerts, educational exhibits and activities are in the planning stages. Commemorative HWW buttons will be available to purchase as show of support, as well as automatic entry in the “lucky number” drawing during the Block Party. Although buttons are not required for admission, attendees receive fair warning that those without buttons at the Block Party risk being thrown into the hoosegow by roving sheriffs.  (All in good fun).

Honoka‘a Western Week is a volunteer-driven project of the Honoka‘a Business Association, The Hāmākua Farm Bureau and the Hāmākua Lion’s Club celebrating Hāmākua’s paniolo heritage and unique cultural blend.  Sponsors include Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, County of Hawaiʻi CPEP, Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, Steinlager, and many other generous supporters. Checks payable to “Honokaʻa Business Association” can be sent to P.O. Box 474, Honokaʻa HI 96727, attention: Honoka‘a Western Week. For more information, follow Honoka‘a Western Week on Facebook.

Events are subject to change, with more to come!

  • March 31. Deadline to enter HSC Rodeo Queen competition, 808-756-3293
  • April 1. Deadline to apply for HSC Scholarships. Call 808-960-2947 or email hawaiisaddleclub@ymail.com
  • May 9. Deadline to enter Saloon Girl and Cowboys Got Talent Contests. For information, call Jill Mattos, 808-960-5605 or Lorie Farrell, 808-557-2780.
  • May 17-22. Celebrate Honokaʻa Western Week with Honokaʻa Business Association. Everyone is invited to dress up western-style and visit Honoka‘a town merchants, plus join in different paniolo-theme activities every night. (Subject to change, details coming soon). For information, call Jeanne Keller, 808-775-0530.
  • Monday, May 19. Chili Cook Off hosted by The Landing, for information, call Steve Offenbaker, 775-0888.
  • Tuesday, May 20. Art Event: Make-your-own Stick Horse for the Races
  • Wednesday, May 21. Western movies at the Peoples Theater.
  • Thursday, May 22. Memories of Honoka‘a Western Weeks Past, and blessing of the ʻŌhiʻa Lanai to celebrate the Andrade Building’s 90th birthday
  • Friday, May 23:

2 p.m., Road Closure

  • 3 p.m., Stick Horse Race
  • 4 p.m., Paniolo Parade down Mamane Street in Honoka‘a Town
  • 5 p.m., Block Party, Steak Fry
  • 6  p.m., Saloon Girl and Cowboys Got Talent Contests
  • 8 p.m., Dancing in the Street
  • Saturday, May 24. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo “Saturday Slack.”  Tickets $7 in advance $8 at the gate.
  • Sunday, May 25.  12 p.m. to Pau, Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo. Tickets $7 in advance $8 at the gate.
  • Monday, May 26. 12 p.m. to Pau, Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo. Tickets $7 in advance $8 at the gate.

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