The Big Island has a rich “cowboy culture” more than a century old. Like the fictional Franklin Ranch, paniolo (thought to derive from the Hawaiian pronunciation of ‘espanol’) culture is centered in the upcountry ranchlands of Waimea. In 1798, Captain George Vancouver presented Kamehameha with five black longhorn cattle. Horses arrived five years later.
In 1816, when John Palmer Parker married royal granddaughter Kipikane, he was awarded two acres of land for $10. With the help of Hawaiian workers, Parker quickly established a booming beef, tallow and hide business with whaler ships.
By 1832, Parker contracted Mexican vaqueros, to wrangle his herd. They brought boots and saddles, a new language and a new lifestyle for the island. The vaqueros trained local men to rope and ride. Their cultural contribution to the Big Island includes the guitar, ukulele, and close-knit family and community ties.
Over the next century, the Parker Ranch grew into one of the world’s largest privately-owned cattle ranches. Paniolo traditions continue. Although today’s paniolo often use ATV’s in open country, you can visit local ranches and explore the beautiful landscapes of Waimea either on horseback or ATV trail rides. Pau riders, women dressed in colorful flowing garments, still exhibit paniolo traditions during island parades and festivals with both the riders and their horses draped with fabulous leis.
For more behind the scene photos of Aloha Rose, visit http://www.pinterest.com/quiltsoflove/aloha-rose-by-lisa-carter/.