Hawaiian cowboys were roping doggies before their counterparts in the American West, although "rodeo" is not the first word that comes to mind when people think of the Islands. But it will be for visitors to yesterday's Waimea Town Celebration, where the cowboy competition is a major draw.
The show stopper was the rescue event, where a mounted rider circles a barrel to pick up a buddy and giddyup for home. In this case the crowd gasped as the diminutive cowgirl was snatched by her uncle and swept wide of the wrong end of the horse. She was able to hang on to the finish line with the horse at a full gallop and the crowd hooting and applauding. Some of the best riders in the U.S. participate in the events, though it is mainly a reason for the town to get together and share a heritage of cowboy aloha in the far, far west.
The celebration, an annual event, also includes live music in a pavilion at the old sugar mill, surrounded by crafts, gift, and food booths. At the visitors center across the street, Hawaiians displayed cultural traditions, such as lei making, poi pounding, and Niihau necklaces which are thought by many to be the finest examples of shell artistry in the world. BTW: Although Parker Ranch (the nation's largest privately owned cattle operation) is in Waimea on the Big Island, this Waimea is on Kaua'i, site of British Captain James Cook's first landfall in Hawaii in the late 18C.