Three-day Panaewa Stampede celebrates 27th anniversary

From Saturday through Monday, the Hawaii Horse Owners Association will hold its 27th annual rodeo, The 2019 Panaewa Stampede, at the Panaewa Equestrian Center in Hilo.

“Our hometown rodeo is a perfect family event,” said Nancy Cabral, one of the main organizers of the rodeo. “Locals and visitors alike can enjoy the exciting events and laugh at the antics of our rodeo clown, JJ Harrison. This year, we are pleased to bring Justin McKee to Hilo as our event announcer. While at the rodeo, stop by our food concessions, craft booths and our new-this-year Beer Tent,” said Cabral.

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Rodeo attendees can watch bull riding, roping and bronc riding, along with wahine and keiki events. The more adventurous in the audience can sign a form indicating that they are 18 years or older and are sane and sober, entitling them to participate in “fun with live bulls” in the arena. Last person standing — those that haven’t run or climbed the fence — will earn a cash reward.

In addition to traditional rodeo events, this popular rodeo will feature two uniquely Hawaiian competitions: the “po‘o wai u” and “double mugging.”

The “po‘o wai u” was a technique developed by the paniolo to capture wild cattle. A wild cow would be lassoed around its horns and then tied to a tree overnight so the cow would hopefully wear itself out. The next day the paniolo would return to bring in the untamed cow. One of the “pipi ‘ahiu” (wild cow) would be tied together with one or two tamer cattle and then the trio of cows would be herded back to the ranch.

In the rodeo event commemorating this activity, a cowboy will have to lasso a cow by the horns, pass the rope through a Y-shaped pole (simulating a tree), snugging the cow to the pole and tie the rope to his horse. The horse will have to stand and maintain the pull of the rope to keep the cow against the pole while the cowboy ties another rope around the cow’s neck and to the pole. As the cows used for this event are not your friendly tame cow, the cowboy and his horse have to work closely together.

Double mugging is another unique event found only in Hawaiian rodeos. Harking back to the story of capturing wild cattle, tying them to a tree was only the first part of returning to the ranch with a cankerous wild cow.

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In this rodeo event, two paniolo will work together to knock a cow to the ground and tie up three of its legs. This event involves full size steers and often turns into a wrestling match between man and beast.

Tickets will be on sale on all three days at the Equestrian Center, located off Highway 11, going out of Hilo toward Volcano. Turn at the signs for the rodeo and the Panaewa Zoo. Admission is $10 for adults, and children 12 and under are free. Enjoy some rodeo fun with a uniquely Hawaiian flavor. For more information, call 937-1004.

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