The Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables on Parker Ranch provides the stage for a two-day Paniolo Artisan Showcase on Sept. 28 and 29. The event showcases the state’s leading saddle makers, rawhide braiders and leather crafters.
The first Paniolo Artisan Showcase, held in September 2009 at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea, drew artisans from throughout the state. This year’s venue presents a talk story opportunity, enabling attendees to visit with individual crafters in a casual setting.
This admission-free event is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. At the conclusion of the showcase, a country western band will entertain the crowd until 5:30 p.m. when Alvin Kawamoto, founder of the Paniolo Artisan Showcase, with the assistance of well-known cowgirl Fern White, will make a surprise presentation to celebrate the lifetime work of an unsuspecting honoree.
A paniolo-style supper will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the adjoining Hale Aina and a video presentation by Maui saddler Gretchen Cardoso details her skill and dedication to restoring century-old vintage Hawaiian saddle trees. Dinner tickets ($15 donation) are available at the Parker Ranch Store, Kamuela Liquor Store or at the gate.
Hailing from Kauai are saddle makers Stanley Valoroso and Clarence Corpuz, who bring saddle-making skills unique to the Garden Isle. Traveling from Oahu is Clive Ushijima whose carved leather work reflects a variety of distinctive Hawaiian floral patterns.
The south wing of the stables will house displays of several Parker Ranch saddle makers who have retained the more than 120-year-old standard of excellence combined with practical functionality. The multigenerational artistry of the DeSilva clan will anchor this wing. Other revered saddlers — such as Neal Asai, Frank Hess and Kalei Lindsey — will present their classic work. In all, more than 16 artisans will demonstrate their unique craft.
The work of founder Kawamoto is featured in the central courtyard of the Paniolo Heritage Center. His work honors the unique styles of saddlers found not only on the Big Island but on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Lanai and Niihau.
Paniolo Preservation Society was founded in 1998 by a group of like-minded individuals determined to preserve the paniolo culture and lifestyle of Hawaii. With a statewide focus, its mission is to preserve and promote the heritage of the Hawaiian cowboy. Housed at historic Pukalani Stables on Parker Ranch, the Paniolo Heritage Center is home to paniolo collections of paniolo documents, images, artifacts and museum displays, as well as the Oahu Cattlemen Association’s Paniolo Hall of Fame display. For more information, visit paniolopreservation.org.