Billy Bergin, right, co-founder of the Paniolo Preservation Society, and Joan Moynahan, left, talk about the history of cattle brands sewn into a quilt by Anuinui Quilters group in Waimea, Hawaii.
Quilters' finished work represents ranch history
WAIMEA, Hawaii » Each of the 48 squares represents a piece of Hawaii history, and each of the cattle brands tells its own story.
Anuinui Quilters, a group of two dozen ladies who quilt in the heart of Big Island ranch county, set out six months ago to create a Hawaiian-style exhibition quilt in honor of the Year of the Paniolo.
The ladies presented the 5.5-by-7-foot quilt to Dr. Billy Bergin, co-founder of the Paniolo Preservation Society, who says he'll be taking it to Cheyenne, Wyo., in July for the Frontier Days Rodeo.
The quilt will likely then be displayed at North Hawaii Community Hospital before becoming a permanent display at a paniolo, or Hawaii cowboy, museum and education center the preservation society is planning.
"It's remarkable how these ladies were able to convert these metal shapes into a work of art and still retain the realism of the cattle brand," Bergin said.
Some of the older brands have a Spanish and Mexican influence with more frills. It wasn't until the emergence of the American West that designs were simplified, according to Bergin, who helped the quilters research each of the brands.
"This was probably one of our most interesting projects," said quilter Joan Moynahan. "It's so local and has so much history and background. It was really quite a process. As we finished each square, we could see how wonderfully it was coming together."
Anuinui Quilters President Nancy Donigan said the group often donates quilts to hospitals, hospices and children's organizations, but this one was special.
"It's all about the history of Waimea, and it's going to remain in Waimea," she said. "People who live here are connected to the ranches somehow, so they know the families and are familiar with brands. It was quite personal."
The Hawaii cowboy heritage is being honored with an entire year of events during the Waiomina Centennial Celebration.
The celebration highlights the past, present and future importance of Hawaii's ranching industry and the crucial roles played by paniolo in developing modern Hawaii.
Events during the year include pageants, rodeos, trail rides, tours, workshops and school projects.
Bergin said he is thrilled the community is embracing the Year of the Paniolo and stepping up the fundraising for the museum and education center.
"The community has stepped forward significantly," he said. "There isn't a school in North Hawaii that isn't taking part."