Anyone who has traveled to Hawaii’s Big Island knows that there is a strong paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, culture. Amid the palm trees and tropical setting, lucky cows graze on verdant hillsides and cowboys ride the open range. Hawaiian cowboys have their own distinctive clothes, music, and culture, that is different from cowboys on the mainland.
On my trip to Hawaii’s Big Island, I was able to ride with cowgirls at Parker Ranch (read more about Paniolos at Parker Ranch) and hear stories of the rigors that wannabe cowboys were put through in order to become Parker Ranch Cowboys. Parker Ranch is an institution on the Big Island. This large cattle ranch, has been in existence for over 160 years. This year, 2008, is the year of the Hawaiian Cowboy, the Paniolo. During the next couple of weeks on the Big Island and at Parker Ranch, many events are in full swing, from Old Hawaii pagents and bands to BBQ’s, trail rides and rodeos.
Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Michael “Corky” Bryan, a Parker Ranch cowboy, and 2007 inductee into the Paniolo Hall of Fame. He’ll shed further light on paniolo culture on the Big Island and what makes paniolo style so distinctive. For now, you can learn more about paniolos and upcoming events that you can attend on Hawaii’s Big Island through the Paniolo Preservation Society .