POIPU — Guest vaquero Manny Gonzales did not know which horse he would be using while performing vaquero-style trick roping at CJM Country Stables Friday afternoon.
“He still has something left in him,” Gonzales said after completing the Grand Entry aboard a horse loaned him by Lelan Nishek. “I could work with him.”
Gonzales did not do any performances on the opening day of the 20th annual Koloa Plantation Days Rodeo, and Nishek said he was involved with other events that kept him from practicing for the three-day rodeo.
The Koloa Plantation Days Rodeo opened to a sea of spectators anxious for action that included team roping, barrel racing, bronc riding and bull riding.
The action only serves to whet the appetites of rodeo fans who closed off the night with music and dancing from Not My First Rodeo.
The opening day also serves as the opener for the 10-day Koloa Plantation Days celebration that pays tribute to the plantation-era days’ lifestyle and culture. Paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, were part of that era and the history of Hawaii.
Rodeo action continues through Sunday afternoon, and different activities surrounded the Koloa Plantation Days today with the historic Hapa Trail walk with a pre-walk coffee hour hosted by the St. Raphael Church, a historic fixture in Koloa.
A formal Koloa Plantation Days opening takes place this evening at the Sunset Ho‘olaule‘a that starts at 5 p.m. at the Poipu Beach Athletic Club. It will also be the first time people can get this year’s edition of the commemorative shirts. Other entertainment in the lineup include the Beat-Lele with John Cruz headlining the evening of food trucks, “Got Game” for keiki, and seating at The Cabana at the Poipu Beach Athletic Club.
More events continue throughout the week, ending with the historic Koloa Plantation Days parade Saturday, July 27, and the Family Fun Run/Walk Sunday, July 28 presented by the Kukuiula Canoe Club.