This past year, family owned Oskie Rice arena, located in upcountry Maui has made significant physical changes. The Makawao rodeo has annually been held at Oskie Rice arena for the past 64 years always on the 4th of July. Along with the annual rodeo is the Makawao rodeo parade that would have been held for its 55th time this year, but due to the pandemic it had to be cancelled for the year of 2020. The rodeo has always been a place where the community can gather together to enjoy the Paniolo events and festivities. Over the past year before the renovations happened, Makawao rodeo was connected with the Maui Roping Club, but just over the past year they separated. Many participants of the rodeo are upset, sad, and unsure about why the Makawao rodeo decided to split from the roping club. The reason is unknown still, but the aspects of the rodeo will not change.
With the new renovations in store, the rodeo will be able to accommodate a lot more people, twice as much as it did before. Now the new arena is supposed to accommodate 100 to 1000 competitors. The first phase of the renovations will accommodate about 2500 people according to Oskie Rice Arena Renovations. In 2020, the rodeo and Makawao parade was cancelled while the new renovations were being made and the COVID-19 pandemic also played in effect of the cancellation of the parade. With the effects and peak of COVID-19, renovations have been put on hold till further notice.
The new year is here and there is a planned virtual contest that is supposed to be held July 4th, 2021 via. zoom. There are already contestants statewide and from the mainland that have already entered. Once all the renovations are complete, the Makawao stampede has a memorial event planned. This event will open with qualification rounds, bull bash entertainment, music, and rodeo championships. A holiday Makawao parade is in plan and will end at Oskie Rice arena and be the opening to the new and improved rodeo.
Now that the Oskie Rice arena has separated from the Maui Roping Club, the name will no longer be called the Makawao rodeo, but instead be called the Makawao Stampede. Along with the new name, there will be new fencing, spectator seating, and a clubhouse where the food will be located and sold. Each year the rodeo has a variety of different food booths ranging from burgers, hot dogs, chili and rice, nachos to full plate lunches. Now with the new renovations, the clubhouse will be used for that purpose. The upcountry fair was also associated with the Makawao parade. People could go buy rodeo souvenirs, horse tack, rodeo clothing, there was always a raffle where people could win a variety of items. With the new renovations it is uncertain if there will be an upcountry fair in the future. Although there have been new changes and renovations, there is hope that the rodeo will remain the same when it is ready to host events again. “The rodeo brings people together because it requires a lot of work to put together. It is an exciting family friendly event for everyone to enjoy with good food and lots of events and action in the arena,” stated Aly.
According to the article, Harold Fredrick “Oskie” Rice, “Rodeo was brought to Hawaii in the early 1950’s, Kaonoulu Ranch, owned by Oskie ohana has many acres of upcountry Makawao spreading from the tops of Haleakala to the island’s southern coast. The Rice family has continued to make Oskie rice arena a place that can be preserved as a historical area.” The ranch’s evolution has changed dramatically from when Oskie Rice was the founder and owner. When Oskie Rice passed away, his descendants were left in charge of keeping the place in shape and keeping the small island tradition of what we call the “Rodeo” a festive place. Sugar, pineapple and ranching have always been Maui’s main industries, but with sugar and pineapple gone, the only remaining industry available to them is the rodeo and this is why the Oskie ohana has done so well to try and make the arena a better place and environment for everyone to enjoy.
“I was inspired by the Paniolo culture of upcountry, Maui and I grew up going to many rodeos, and had many family and friends involved in rodeo as well. I felt very welcomed by the rodeo community and wanted to fully be a part of it. The rodeo has taught me a lot about Aloha. It is truly a special sport that encompasses skills of both horse and rider and community involvement,” said former rodeo and queen contestant, Aly Panglao.
Currently, there are small rodeos being held at the new rodeo grounds. These rodeos are being held on the weekends. All people who are not riding must wear a mask, contestants, participants, and spectators. As of right now the Hawaii High School Rodeo Association are hosting their yearly rodeos, with of course the proper rules and regulations of the State and County requirements for COVID-19. Social distancing 6 feet or more is required along with face coverings and masks. These rodeos are small events, there are a limited number of people invited and allowed to participate. At the end of this December there is a ‘Merry Makawao Miracle’ event planned for the Makawao 4th of July parade as well as the Stampede at the newly renovated Oskie Rice arena.