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Mike Sweeney and Bob Blair at an ACTRA roping in Hawaii.

By Mike Sweeney

ACTRA Business Manager

Recently Bob and Teena Blair, my wife Vikki Sweeney and I were able to take a long time item off of our “bucket lists” – a vacation in Hawaii. After a lot of procrastinating and a lot of encouraging from our friends from Hawaii, the flights were booked and we were up and away.


As luck would have it, there was an ACTRA roping the first weekend the couples were on vacation, imagine that! The roping was at the Ampac Arena. The facility is managed by Shawn Aguiar and plays a very important part of the ropings produced on the Big Island of Kona. Shawn provides almost all the roping cattle on the island. With a lot of rains the week before, most would think this would be a rain out. With the promise of sunshine, Shawn went to work getting the arena ready and the ACTRA members showed up ready to rope.

A total of 190 teams entered up. After the first round was run it was time to stop and eat and visit. The food had a Hawaiian flair and was enjoyed almost as much as the roping. Now it was time to finish the roping. When it got down to the high teams, everyone was rooting for everyone, when I say everyone I don’t just mean the ropers, but the families — and there were a lot of them watching intently. 

What happened next was different from many of the ropings we had attended here in the States. Everyone stuck around to congratulate the winners, to give advice to the almost winners and just be thankful for the great day of fun with family. Of course, the Mainlanders were given a lot of advice and asked a lot of questions of how their ropings compare to ropings on the Mainland.

It became very apparent to the Blair’s and the Sweeney’s that it was easy to understand where Hawaii ACTRA Founder Gene Aguiar came up with the ACTRA motto, “Where Families Come To Rope.” Gene passed away in 2012, but he would be so proud to know this motto isn’t just a motto, it’s a way of life in Hawaii. A very special thank you to Linnea Aguilar Botelho for taking us and showing us Gene’s home which he was so proud of and we could see why. The rest of the day Linnea was our tour guide for the eastern side of the island. We had a great lunch in Hilo, later that afternoon we met up with Linnea’s husband Herbie and he gave us a tour of the world famous volcano.

The next week we all became tourists and enjoyed many of the things you can only experience in Hawaii. One of the things that most tourists don’t experience is the great fellowship that we had at our Hawaiian family’s homes. These were some of the best times we had on our vacation. The days flew by and before you knew it, it was the weekend again. As luck would have it again, there was another roping. This time the roping was held at the big Kona Stampede Rodeo. High teams from these ropings would be invited to rope in the roping performances. As luck would have it (and I do mean “luck”) I was third in the go-round and I would make the Sunday performance. I have to tell you, they rope a lot of mulies over there and that is a whole new ball game for a header!

I want to thank Makayla Awa and her great horse Chewie for making my roping experience in Hawaii one I will never forget. Bob roped a lot of steers on a good gray mare, Scout, who belonged to Chris Awa (Bob was trying to figure out how to get Scout back to California without Chris knowing). Thanks Chris.

With just a few days left we made the most of it. We made a few more trips to Bongo Ben’s, our favorite hangout, and of course the ladies did a little more shopping, and a couple of day trips to Waimea to the Waimea Western Store owned by long time ACTRA members Butch and Carla Gomes. The whole trip was a lifetime experience and the friends that treated us like family have made the experience something we will always cherish. 

A great big “Mahalo” (thank you) to the following “ohanas” (families) that made this vacation a very special memory and making us feel like ohana! The Awa’s, Gomes’, Botelho’s Serion’s, Aguiar’s, Bugado’s, Onaka’s and the Medeiros’.

We would also like to thank the cast of characters that made us laugh so hard that it hurt. Uncle Willie Andrade, who happens to be Hawaii’s oldest active ACTRA member at 93 years young, and still going strong, Bobby “High Call” DeMattos, and Brian DeMattos. 

Some recent ACTRA results from Hawaiian arenas:

Kau Roping & Riding Association - March 24 
#8 Hdcp P/D

1st go: 1. Ka’ohu Ha’alilio and Stoney Boy Joseph, 5.76, $191. 2. Chris Awa and Brian DeMattos, 6.31, $143. 3. Jeremiah Benevides and Travis Gomes, 6.44, $95. 4. Chris Awa and Kevin Hill, 6.48, $48.

Average: 1. Chris Awa and Brian DeMattos, 15.64, $629. 2. Damien Flores and Stoney Boy Joseph, 19.65, $439. 3. Kaumaka Bean and Jeremiah Benevides, 27.74, $324. 4. Geno Glaser and Cookie Kawamoto, 28.83, $229. 5. Chris Awa and Kevin Hill, 33.70, $172. 6. Gregg Menino and Travis Gomes, 34.07, $114.

Ampac Arena - March 10
#8 Hdcp P/D

1st go: 1. Dewey Matsumoto and Shawn Aguiar, 5.99, $168. 2. Geno Glaser and Shawn Aguiar, 6.03, $120. 3. Allen Aku and Brian DeMattos, 6.50, $91. 4. Chris Awa and Kevin Hill, 6.52, $67. 5. Allen Aku and Levi Higa, 6.63, $34.

Average: 1. Chris Awa and Butch Gomes, 17.42, $577. 2. Alen Aku and Brian DeMattos, 18.51, $404. 3. Kacy Boteilho and Travis Ching, 19.43, $308. 4. Chris Awa and Kevin Hill, 21.91, $231. 5. Wally Ching and Franklin Boteilho, 24.81, $173. 6. Jonah Menino and Bobby DeMattos, 25.66, $135. 7. Dewey Matsumoto and Nolan Nobriga, 26.79, $96.

Molokai Ranch - March 10
#8 Hdcp

1st go: 1. Sale Sproat and Clifford Dudoit Jr, 6.28, $50. 2. Jayden Tabilangan and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 6.29, $33.

Average: 1. Sale Sproat and Clifford Dudoit Jr, 20.51, $323. 2. Sale Sproat and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 21.41, $248. 3. Lane Kamakana and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 21.76, $180.

Feb. 24 - #8 Hdcp

1st go: 1. Codi Kamakana and Michael Patrick, 6.75, $56. 2. Benny Deluna and Reyn Goat Dudoit, 7.81, $37.

Average: 1. Zhan Lindo and Clifford Dudoit, 19.38, $360. 2. Codi Kamakana and Michael Patrick, 25.09, $277. 3. Maka Augustiro and Kalehua Sproat, 31.20, $201.

Feb. 10 - #8 Hdcp

1st go: 1. Kainoa Kamakana and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 7.46, $48. 2. Kainoa Kamakana and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 7.72, $32.

Average: 1. Codi Kamakana and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 20.82, $310. 2. Kainoa Kamakana and Rex Bubu Kamakana, 34.17, $238. 3. Codi Kamakana and Kainoa Kamakana, 38.09, $173.

Kaonoulu Ranch Makawao Arena - Feb. 25

#7 Hdcp

1st go: 1. Ken Miranda and Brad Apo, 6.63, $60.

Average: 1. Ron Slayton and Ken Miranda, 19.60, $273. 2. Rory Souza and Brad Apo, 21.14, $172. 3. Stoney Boy Joseph and John Prito, 24.21, $136. 4. Isaiah Abbey and John Paul Garcia, 24.87, $86. 5. Stoney Boy Joseph and Nolan Nobriga, 24.93, $50.

CJM Stables - Feb. 11

#8.5 Hdcp P/D

1st go: 1. Pat Brun and Randy Brun, 9.15, $33.

Average: 1. Pat Brun and Ross Brun, 24.50, $147. 2. Russell Miranda and Chaz Rita, 27.24, $88. 3. Russell Miranda and Randy Brun, 30.93, $59.

Kau Roping Assoc. - Feb. 10

#8 Hdcp P/D

1st go: 1. Chris Awa and Traysyn Bulla Waltjen, 6.07, $201. 2. Steve Cox and Dusty Miranda, 6.49, $121. 3. Rusty Wilbur and Boots Kaapana, 6.61, $80.

Average: 1. Daniel Ahsing and Brian DeMattos, 17.69, $563. 2. Chris Awa and Kelly Medeiros, 19.14, $402. 3. Chelsey Fuerte and Ethan Awa, 19.15, $306. 4. Michael Smith and Traysyn Bulla, 22.06, $225. 5. Chris Awa and Traysyn Bulla Waltjen, 26.91, $113.

Bob Blair (l) and Mike Sweeney (r) with Bobby “High Call” DeMattos.

The Hawaii ACTRA Board of Directors, Chris Awa, Linnea Botelho, Brian DeMattos, Shawn Aguiar, Mike Smith, Brian Bugado and Chad Serion. Not in picture are Kent Onaka, Chaz Rita, and Ken Miranda.

Winners of the average and go-rounds with Bob Blair (l) and Mike Sweeney (r) were Linnea Botelho, Chris Awa, Butch Gomes, Shawn Aguiar and Dewey Matsumoto. 

“Uncle Willie” Andrade, Hawaii’s oldest active ACTRA member at 93 years old.