Lei Papale Contest

“Hanohano Na Lei Paniolo”

September 3, 2022

On a cool Waimea morning, forty-two meticulously hand-crafted lei were presented at the Parker Ranch rodeo grounds for participation in a unique lei papale contest to benefit the children of Parker Ranch employees. The contest was the brainchild of Deedee Keakealani, a second-generation employee of the ranch and president of the Parker Ranch Round-up Club (PRRC). PRRC was formed in 1974 by ranch employees to raise funds for the educational needs of their families. The club hosts an annual rodeo event which is the major fundraiser for the club. This year, in honor of the ranch’s 175th anniversary, the club proposed adding a few additional activities. These included the lei papale contest which was open to the public, a smoked meat and pickled onion contest for ranch employees only, and a heritage hall with memorabilia from years past.

Lei Papale Contest display

The theme for the contest was “Hanohano Na Lei Paniolo” and the response was overwhelming. Lei makers from across the island spent hours, even days, carefully searching for their lei materials, selecting only the finest greenery, and painstakingly crafting their lei. They searched on the mountains, by the ocean, and combed through their gardens for just the right combination of flowers, foliage and other natural materials for their masterpieces.

The results rivaled any lei festival, and the judges had the difficult task of selecting winners in four categories. Lei were divided into four lei making styles – haku, humupapa, kui and wili. Each was scored on craftsmanship, creative use of material, coordination of color and expression of theme. An added “People’s Choice” winner was chosen by public vote.

What made this contest unique is that all the lei makers generously donated their lei to the club to be auctioned off at the conclusion of the competition. Lei from category winners as well as the People’s Choice winner were auctioned live and all other entries went to silent auction. Proceeds went to the PRRC scholarship fund. It was heartwarming to see so many of the rodeo contestants and spectators wearing these amazing works of art.

And, while lei are perishable, the emotion which they evoke are lasting.

Revered Waimea artisan and lei maker Marie McDonald was often asked, “How do you make a flower lei last?” Her reply, “It really bothers me because that’s not the reason for the lei—that it should last forever. What should last is the thought, the reason for giving that lei, the thought that went into it. Words can be beautiful, but sometimes ‘I love you’ is not enough. If you say it with something as beautiful as a lei, you know there’s a lot of power in that.

We are grateful to the lei makers and the recipients of these artistic creations for their generous support of the Round-up Club.

A special mahalo to the following:

  • Our esteemed judges – Scott De Sa, Buzzy Histo, Corrine Weller
  • Contest advisor – Punahele Andrade
  • Kokua – Carolyn Auweloa, Blair Embernate, Candice and Matt Meyer, Luke Paulus
  • Social media specialist – Justina Wood
  • Prizes – Zach Judd and Veterinary Associates
  • Liana and Glen Honda for their endless sharing of time and talent

Winner: Bryson Diprete
Honorable Mention: Brenda Akao-Wedin

Winner: Lindsey Iyo
Honorable Mention: Trista Moniz

Winner: Malia Kamaka
Honorable Mention: Cole Kaleohano

Winner: Alison Higgins
Honorable Mention: Lindsey Iyo

Winner: Nia Powers

Winner: Lindsey Iyo