The West Kauai Saddle Club was formed in the early 1960s by Mrs. Jean Burns Faye, wife of Waimea Sugar Company manager Alan Faye Sr., assisted by Johnny Robinson, Virgie Rapozo, Eddie Duarte, Jean Gregg, Kaipo Hookano, Manuel Andrade Sr. and others.
Its main venue was the Kekaha Arena, where many a rodeo was held during the 1960s.
Kekaha Arena’s wooden fences (reinforced with old boiler tubing from the sugar mill), chutes, clubhouse and stands for spectators were located across the road from the Kekaha sugar mill, on the mauka side of Kekaha Road, once the site of Kekaha Sugar Company’s Spanish Camp. (Kekaha Arena and Spanish Camp no longer exist.)
During Kekaha Arena’s heyday in the 1960s, as many as 50 paniolo, along with others, would participate and upwards of 1,000 spectators would attend rodeos there that featured relay races, barrel racing, cattle roping and other events.
Mike Faye, West Kauai businessman and son of Alan Faye Sr. and Jean Burns Faye, recently fondly recalled “That was where I grew up — spent all weekends building the fences, chutes, clubhouse. (Well, my parents did the work part. Us kids just played.) Rodeo’d all the time there.”
Retired Gay & Robinson paniolo Eddie Taniguchi Jr. also remembers rodeos at Kekaha Arena, where he and his father, both cowboys, competed as a team in steer roping. One rider would rope the steer around its head, and the other would rope the back legs of the steer.
What made roping especially challenging was that the roping stock came from Kekaha Sugar’s especially strong and skittish wild mountain cattle.
Another event, unique to rodeos held at the Kauai Arena, was Poo Wai U, which was representative of the paniolo in the wild catching wild cattle, and tying them to trees, then coming back later to collect them and take them out of the forest.
When Mrs. Faye passed way in 1966, the West Kauai Saddle Club and rodeos conducted at the Kekaha Arena soon after became a thing of the past.