Makawao Stampede, Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary

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Selene Gunnison

Travel back in time to Makawao in the 1930s and you might notice similarities to Makawao today. Many of the building facades on Baldwin Avenue, Makawao’s main street, remain unchanged except for new paint and updated signs. Families of wild chickens still roam the town.

Formerly Yoshi’s Fish Market, now Rodeo General Store, is still where Makawao residents go to buy vegetables and other necessities, and while Komoda Store is no longer a popular hangout for coffee and chat, it has grown into one of Maui’s most beloved bakeries and remains a mainstay in Makawao.

Makawao began to emerge as an Upcountry social and business center in the late 1800s when ranching and sugar plantations opened in the area. By the 1930s, Makawao was a full-fledged town with a billiards parlor, a movie theater, two gas stations, a general store and a diverse population. Most of the non-Hawaiian residents of this era were of Portuguese, Asian, Filipino and Spanish origins, making Makawao the epitome of Hawaii’s melting pot.

World War II brought an influx of troops to Makawao. The Tam Cho Store (now Casanova Italian Restaurant) was converted into the Crossroads USO, providing entertainment for the thousands of servicemen living and training at Camp Maui. After the war, Makawao fell into disrepair. Job opportunities drew people to Central Maui, but Makawao’s cowboy (The Cowboys) stayed.

Hawaii’s largest rodeo, the Makawao Rodeo, takes place every year on the Fourth of July in the inland town of Makawao. (Photo: Oski Rice Events Center)

Surrounded by vast ranches, Makawao has long been known as a paniolo town. (For reference, when most of the Midwest was still being developed, paniolos tended cattle on the slopes of Mount Haleakala; the first upcountry ranch was established in 1845.)

But Makawao’s tradition as a cowboy hub was solidified in 1955, when Kaonuul Ranch manager Harold “Oski” Rice founded the Maui Roping Club and the famed Makawao Rodeo began a year later. The Makawao Rodeo (now called the Makawao Stampede) still takes place every July and is the largest rodeo in the state. The rodeo is preceded by a parade through town celebrating the Upcountry community.

Makawao was a quiet paniolo town until the 1970s, when a renewed interest in country living drew residents back to the area. As newcomers flocked to town, opening restaurants and art galleries, modern Makawao began to take shape.

Today, Makawao blends New Age with country spirit, a fusion that typically mixes like oil and water. But it’s this combination that gives Makawao its unique flavor. After all, where else on Maui will you find an old hitching post next to a Chinese herb shop?

The Makawao Rodeo is a tradition that has been held since 1956. Now called the Makawao Stampede, this year’s event takes place at Oski Rice Arena from June 30 to July 2. The Makawao Parade is on June 24.

Ashley Probst

Honeybee Sanctuary (Photo: Erica Erickson)

Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary is buzzing with activity in Kanaio, a tiny community a few miles south of Ulupalakua. This off-grid organic farm overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Maui’s lava fields from the western slope of Haleakala. It is on this sprawling property that owner Erica Erickson lives and works as a beekeeper, educator and artisan.

“Maui, and Hawaii Island in general, is a fantastic place to keep bees. It’s one of the most ethical places to get honey because it’s always in production,” said Erickson, who has been committed to ethical and organic beekeeping methods since starting his beekeeping operation in the Upcountry in 2015.

Another big part of Erickson’s mission is to provide education about bees, especially to children. She hopes this will inspire some kids to become beekeepers. “Bees are the future, so they’re the ones that are going to have the biggest impact on the world,” she said.

This education also extends to volunteers who work on the farm, who in return are given housing and hands-on experience in beekeeping.

For everyone who works at Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary, a typical day involves operating the roadside produce stand, giving educational tours, tending to the eight beehives on-site, and making handmade beeswax products like lotions, lip balms, food wraps, candles, etc. Erickson also hosts workshops to teach others how to make these all-natural treats.

In addition to working his own farm, Erickson also manages hives at other local farms on Maui and the Big Island, which has allowed him to curate a diverse collection of honey, including kiawe, lavender, macadamia nut, and ohia lehua.

“The honey I produce on my property is called Liquid Gold Honey. It’s basically wildflower honey, but to me it’s like gold because it’s precious,” Erickson says. She also makes a specialty infusion with Hawaiian chili peppers and cacao that she calls Honey Fudge. Visitors are welcome to stop by for a free sample.

All of Erickson’s creations are sold at an on-site farm stand and at Da Beehive in Paia, which she also owns and operates. If you stop by, you might be lucky enough to chat with Erickson and meet her dog, Franklin, who serves as the company’s mascot and is coincidentally the color of honey, as visitors often point out.

Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary in Kanaio is open daily from 10:30am to 6:30pm, and Da Beehive in Paia is open daily from 10:30am to 6:30pm. @mauihoneybees

Cynthia Sweeney

Victor Holmes and Sandra Bailey have been creating hand-cranked artworks in their Makawao studio for over 20 years. Inspired by the beauty and diversity of Hawaii’s trees, their story is rooted in a love of nature. It’s not often that you find a husband and wife team of artists working in the same medium.

When Bailey first moved to Maui, he was amazed by the amount of beautiful wood there was and knew he wanted to work in woodworking. Then, “when I decided to buy a lathe, it was like a dream come true.” Holmes was the first to try out the lathe, and Bailey helped sharpen the tools, and he soon began working as an apprentice.

After learning how to make traditional bowls, vases and gourds, Bailey and Holmes ventured “off the beaten path,” making wood carvings that sometimes have an abstract quality that’s more artistic than practical. “Each piece of wood has its own essence that tells you what it wants to be,” Bailey said. The pair find inspiration in nature, walking their dogs in the mountains and the ocean; Bailey is also an amateur free diver and Holmes is a surfer.

Each has their own style of woodturning, but they also collaborate on many projects. Bailey sometimes adds color to Holmes’ pieces with resin inlays or paint, and they also incorporate natural elements like pinecones. The wood used in their work comes exclusively from felled trees. “I call it treecycling,” Bailey says. “It’s wood that would probably have otherwise gone into green waste.” Even their studio is built from recycled materials.

Their work is on display and for sale at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and the studio also serves clients by appointment, frequently shipping pieces around the world to visitors from as far away as Saudi Arabia and India.

“People who come here want to take something home that reminds them of Hawaii and their experiences,” Bailey says. “It’s especially satisfying when the piece resonates with someone and they enjoy it. That’s what we do: to spread beauty in the world and to remind people of Maui.”

You can see more of their work at instagram.com/turningintoart.

Turning Art (Photo: Jason Moore)





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