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The Up-Country “Other World” of The Makawao Rodeo

July 7, 2013 - Ray Tsuchiyama

Spouse C., daughter T. and I zoomed up to Pukalani Terrace Shopping Center, and had Fatburgers outside, in the cool breeze. I said that we should come to Up-Country spots more often – this was the first time we three had traveled to the cool heights in more than six months. For many people I know, they make daily work commutes from Makawao or even Kula down to Kahului and back, and never give a further thought, and here we were, gazing at the families sitting for their Fatburger lunch orders and thinking they “looked” different from our Kihei neighbors, only 30 minutes away.

It is all relative, since when I lived in Tokyo, I knew many people (including myself) who hopped on a fast Narita express from Tokyo Station to Narita International Airport and zipped to Beijing or Taipei or Manila or Hong Kong every month, or even to Western Europe or New York (horrible jet lag). Now we thought we were in a totally different "Up-Country" world and I even wanted to investigate a "different" supermarket.

However, the Rodeo was starting, so we didn’t have any time to wander into the big Foodland supermarket, and instead we drove off and turned onto Makawao Avenue and headed to the Oskie Rice Arena for the Rodeo.

The Rodeo is well-organized: we turned in, found a spot, and in a few minutes we were sitting by a family eating shave ice in rainbow syrup colors and watching the Rodeo queen, decked out in ornamental splendor, racing by on a beautiful brown horse.

Aside from the bull lasso-ing, where contestants came from far-flung cow-centric areas on Molokai, Oahu, Lanai and the Island of Hawai'i, we enjoyed the sheep rides. At first, we were perplexed – sheep?

But children wearing helmets did try to ride a sheep, clinging to the thick wool (lanolin is like oil, and slippery, though). One of the sheep riders, a cute boy, wandered to our seating section; he wore what appeared to be very nice alligator-type boots. Children were everywhere, slurping up Shaved Ice (and endless cheesy-drenched French Fries), and enjoying the Pony Ride (I thought I was too big for the pony) and the Mechanical Bull (made famous in the movie "Urban Cowyboy"). What fun for families!

There was a long row of food booths, and I wanted to try the Hawaiian plate, but my Fatburger was still with me, so I drank water and tried to relax. Spouse C. and Daughter went to buy hats, and they bought matching ones with round brims (I had my once-a-year cowboy hat on). The sun is quite strong even when cloudy, and I was sunburnt on my arms later.

Ah, the joys and fun, the highlight of summer on Maui!


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Applauding the Great Rodeo Contestants.