Makawao Rodeo and Parade
Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Makawao Roping Club hosted their 64th annual Rodeo and 54th annual Rodeo Parade, themed “Wild West, Makawao Style”. Beginning on Thursday, the four-day Rodeo displayed the the rich history of the paniolos, or Hawaiian cowboys, and their cultural significance to the Maui community.
Upcountry County Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura first got involved with the Rodeo six years ago, when asked to do the overall coordination of the Parade. Now she serves as the Parade Co-Chair.
“This has been a great experience, because you see a community come together and make this Parade happen through pure, what I call “sweat equity,” which is volunteerism and just a passion of the town and the upcountry spirit” Sugimura said.
The Makawao Rodeo began in 1956, a year after the Makawao Roping Club was founded by paniolos including George Manoa Sr. and Harold “Oskie” Rice. Since the end of the 1800s, ranching was very popular in upcountry Maui and the Rodeo today seeks to perpetuate the history of the ranching era, while showcasing new generations of riders and ropers.
This year, the Rodeo started with prelims on Thursday at the Oskie Rice Arena and concluded with finals on Sunday. Some of the winners include bull-riding champion Koby Jacobsen with a 78-point ride, all-around cowboy Rory Souza, and all-around cowgirl Kalena Kehano.
Saturday’s parade featured Grand Marshall Wayne Asue and special honoree Anthony “Tony” Medeiros, a community member unaffiliated with the Rodeo, but well known for his service work and being a recent MHS Hall of Honor inductee. Kathy Collins, radio personality, actress and freelance writer served as the mistress of ceremonies again, for both the Parade and the stick horse race.
The stick horse race saw children race straw brooms decorated like horses up and down the street. This tradition brings joy to all who watch and participate and therefore stands out to Sugimura as a highlight of the weekend.
“Its something to see. To me it enhances the parade’s theme and importance,” Sugimura said.
Kihei residents Paul and Betty also enjoyed the stick horse race, both saying that their favorite part about the parade is watching the kids have fun. Betty described the atmosphere of the event as “small town wonderful.”
After the stick horse race, vibrant vintage cars and the U.S Pacific Fleet Band commenced the Parade. The cars are always a viewer favorite; Tom from Wailuku has come to every parade for the past 40 years and looks forward to them the most.
When asked why he keeps coming back to the Parade after so many years, he said, “it’s a family thing. I sometimes come with my grandchildren, my daughter… It’s good fun.”
In addition to watching the floats and horses, there were activities such as the 3rd annual chili cook off, as well as face-painting and crafts for children. Meanwhile, stores flourished in Makawao as it is “the busiest day of the year,” according to Neve, whose mom owns the boutique Pink by Nature on Baldwin Avenue. In fact, it hardly seemed as if there was a person without a stick donut from T. Komoda Store and Bakery.
“I like the community coming out and being here for the parade. It’s just a wonderful thing. Makawao, they close off the street, everybody’s cooperative… the kids love it. You see the kids grow up year after year,” said Larry Feinberg, Pukalani resident. Feinberg has lived on Maui for 35 years, and says that he must have been to 30 parades.
When asked about the most memorable moment in all her years of involvement, Sugimura recalled that last year the magician asked his fiancé to get married in the middle of the parade. “It was kind of amazing… I couldn’t believe it. That was very memorable to me.”
Instances like these demonstrate the deep levels of passion and commitment that the community has for this part of Maui’s history and culture.
“[The Rodeo and Rodeo Parade] just moves our traditions forward. I think it’s an important essence of who we are and to keep Makawao Makawao,” Sugimura said.