Paniolo Preservation Society ‘Heritage Dinner’ blends humor with passionate dedication to Hawaii’s ranching legacy

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(PHOTO  COURTESY OF ETHAN TWEEDIE PHOTOGRAPHY)
(PHOTO  COURTESY OF ETHAN TWEEDIE PHOTOGRAPHY)
(PHOTO  COURTESY OF ETHAN TWEEDIE PHOTOGRAPHY)
(PHOTO  COURTESY OF ETHAN TWEEDIE PHOTOGRAPHY)
(PHOTO  COURTESY OF ETHAN TWEEDIE PHOTOGRAPHY)

With tongue-in-cheek humor, members and friends of the Paniolo Preservation Society are invited to “Buy a Ticket – Save a Cowboy!”

The tickets are for PPS’ first Paniolo Heritage Dinner and Auction from 5:30-10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, at the historic Pukalani Stables, which is being brought back to its former glory when it was the home of Parker Ranch’s then world renown horse breeding program. Today, Pukalani Stables – under the aegis of PPS and with the help of many friends and donors — has become the Paniolo Heritage Center with a mini-museum that hosts many community events including a popular weekly farmers market.

Attire for PPS’ Paniolo Heritage Dinner will be “Cowboy Cocktail” but guests are asked to “Leave the Spurs at Home.” All humor aside, this gala affair, which promises a delicious feast, tempting auction and paniolo music and dancing, is serious in continuing PPS’ now 15-year commitment to preserve, protect and promote Hawaii’s ranching legacy.

Honored guest for the evening will be Hawaii filmmaker Edgy Lee, whose award-winning documentary, “Paniolo O Hawaii – Cowboys of the Far West” was acquired by National Geographic, translated into more than 20 languages and shown worldwide.

When producing the film, Edgy also worked with Warner Bros. Records’ Nashville Division President Jim Ed Norman to produce a companion soundtrack CD featuring paniolo music by living treasures including the late Clyde “Kindy” Sproat, as well as Nani Lim Yap and Sonny Lim. The CD was a hit and thanks to the marketing reach of Warner Bros., the music of Hawai’i’s paniolo was introduced to audiences worldwide.

It’s not surprising PPS would honor Edgy for her vision and filmmaking mastery, but what makes her even more their “hero” was her commitment to telling the paniolo story accurately. To achieve this, she worked with numerous paniolo families and Hawaii ranching leaders and historians for more than three years and, because it was leading edge filmmaking on a subject that major film studios didn’t view as having mass appeal, she also had to personally finance most of the project to keep the project afloat.

“Edgy’s film helped carve a place for Hawaii’s paniolo heritage in American history books and this, along with the persistence of PPS, has precipitated much wider local and national recognition and appreciation of the Hawaiian cowboy,” said PPS President Pat Bergin of Waimea.

As awareness of and appreciation for the Hawaiian cowboy spread, thanks in part of Edgy’s film, PPS relentlessly pursued other projects including a sister-city relationship with Cheyenne, Wyo. This led to the highly publicized 2008 celebration of the Centennial of Hawaiian paniolo Ikua Purdy’s amazing victory at Waiomina in 1908 which demonstrated to the world that the Hawaiian cowboy was second to none.

The momentum of the film and heightened respect for the paniolo heritage helped PPS raise funds to commission one of America’s most famous cowboy artists, Fred Fellows, to create the bronze statue of Ikua Purdy on horseback that graces the center of Waimea town. On a roll, PPS also succeeded in getting Parker Ranch founder John Palmer Parker inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and quite recently, PPS worked with this museum to establish a permanent Paniolo Exhibit.

The goal now for PPS is “to keep moving forward because the clock is ticking – preservation waits for no one and there are still many sites, artifacts, practices, stories and more to be preserved and shared,” said Bergin. She added that PPS’ mission also includes keeping Hawaii’s cattle industry alive and thriving.

To further contribute to sustaining PPS’ activities, the Paniolo Heritage Dinner will include a small auction of prized Western/Paniolo items including a hand tooled saddle by master saddler Pete Gorrell sitting on a beautiful handmade koa saddle stand crafted by Phil “Ski” Kwiatkowski. The saddle and stand currently are on exhibit at Parker Ranch Store.

Other auction items include a Fred Fellows’ bronze of the “Hawaiian Saddle,” a koa rocking chair, a multi-colored pheasant lei hulu papa (hat lei) and a Martha Greenwell original oil.

Tickets for the Oct. 26 Paniolo Heritage Dinner & Auction are $150 per person and include paniolo pupu, hosted bar, dinner, the live auction, dancing and entertainment and reservations are required. To purchase tickets, call 854-1541, email paniolo@paniolopreservation.org, or visit Kamuela Liquor Store.