Ranching food traditions highlight Paniolo Talk Story


SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY

"Paniolo Grinds," the traditional foods and the hunting, gathering and cooking practices of Hawaiian ranching families, will be the theme of Paniolo Preservation Society's next Paniolo Talk Story at the new Paniolo Heritage Center at Waimea's historic Pukalani Stables.

The community is invited to the free, after-dark gathering from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 14. Hosted by Kuulei Keakealani, who comes from a multi-generational ranching family, Paniolo Talk Story guests this month will include Kuulei's father, Robert "Sonny" Keakealani, a highly respected Hawaiian cowboy, and Jesse Hoopai, who is the third generation of a four-generation Kohala paniolo ohana and a Parker Ranch cowboy.

Weather permitting, the second Paniolo Talk Story gathering will be moved to the open-air courtyard at Pukalani Stables because of the standing-room-only turnout at the first Paniolo Talk Story. Attendees are encouraged to dress warmly and bring chairs and mats to sit on the lawn. If the weather is inclement, the event will be moved inside to Pukalani Stables' Hale Aina room.

In keeping with the Paniolo Grinds theme, families of Kanu o ka Aina Public Charter School will be selling traditional paniolo pipi (beef) stew and rice with condiments, such as chili pepper water and mayonnaise. There also will be another hot food item and hot and cold nonalcoholic beverages, including steaming hot Starbucks coffee and a paniolo family favorite — cocoa 'n crackers. No coolers, please.

The evening will begin with families, community friends and visitors enjoying an informal dinner and casual talk-story time. Also, guests are invited to explore the newly opened paniolo museum, which includes a growing collection of historic photographs, saddles, bits, spurs and ranching antiques and collectibles.

The formal program will begin about 6 p.m. with Kuulei and guest presenters sharing memories of times gone by.

"We will share stories, music and dances by paniolo friends who live this life and are willing to talk about ranching values, their experiences, laughter, pain and heroics. We do this not just to entertain, but to better understand the challenges and achievements of paniolo life. Paniolo Preservation Society is hosting these gatherings to help remind us that we are all connected to each other and to the land, and why it's important to support (the society) in keeping this proud tradition alive," said society President Robby Hind.

While there is no charge for the gathering, Paniolo Talk Story attendees are urged to join or contribute to Paniolo Preservation Society to help grow the Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables as a valued community resource and gathering place. Families and friends also are urged to use the stables for family and community gatherings as rental income is important to sustaining the Pukalani Heritage Center.

Paniolo Preservation Society recently received a Richard Smart Fund "Hoohui O Waimea — Waimea Coming Together" grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation to help launch Paniolo Talk Story gatherings to strengthen existing, and build new connections among the people of Waimea with their past and future.

Paniolo Talk Stories are the first of many events planned at the Paniolo Heritage Center in coming months to re-introduce the community to Pukalani Stables' foundational contribution to Parker Ranch's success and fame. The stables and horsemen who worked there were nationally and internationally renown for their expertise in providing extraordinary mounts for ranch paniolo, as well as for famous customers including U.S. General George S. Patton and Japan's Imperial Riding Club.

Coming events include Paniolo Preservation Society's Inaugural Paniolo Lifetime Achievement Awards from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 21 at Pukalani Stables. Everyone is welcome to awards presentation and paniolo paina; tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for keiki 5 to 10 years old, and free for younger ones. Tickets are available at Kamuela Liquor Store and Parker Ranch Store, or by calling or emailing the society.

For more information about the nonprofit preservation society and its new Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables, or coming events, visit PanioloPreservation.org, search for Paniolo Preservation Society on Facebook, email paniolo@paniolopreservation.org or call 854-1541.