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Keep calm and rodeo on

A variety of events are planned for the 52nd Annual July 4 Rodeo and Horse Races at the Parker Ranch Arena on July 4. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PARKER RANCH)
Horse races are part of the action at the 52nd Annal July Fourth Rodeo and Horse Races at Parker Square (PHOTO COURTESY OF PARKER RANCH)

Real cowboys say there’s much to learn from a horse and a cow that you can’t learn from football. Anonymous bits of wisdom apply to everyone, such as, “Never grumble. It makes you about as welcome as a sidewinder in a cow camp.” Or, “If it’s not yours, don’t take it. If it’s not true, don’t say it. If it’s not right, don’t do it.”

If you listen carefully and observe its longtime traditions, there’s a chance to capture the widsom of cowboys on Friday, July 4, when Parker Ranch celebrates their paniolo heritage and our nation’s independence at the 52nd Annual July 4th Rodeo and Horse Races at the Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena in Waimea.

“It’s the best show that you’re ever going to get for 10 dollars,” said Nahua Guilloz, Parker Ranch senior manager and corporate secretary. “We have it packed with great events, from horse racing to rodeo events the entire time. You’re never sitting around. Things are happening all the time. There will be five or six different food trucks, we’ll have a petting zoo and pony rides. They’ll be something for everyone, which is awesome.”

Paniolos from across Hawaii Island will join the Parker Ranch paniolos for a round-up of traditional rodeo events, including horse races, mugging, team roping and more. The non-stop rodeo action provides an opportunity to see Hawaii’s cowboys in action.

“Another great thing about the rodeo is that it starts at 9 a.m. and is usually done by 12:30 p.m. so it allows for enough time to attend the other events going on around town,” said Guilloz. “You have the whole afternoon, so you can still go to Kona town or Waikoloa and catch the firework show.”

The rodeo kicks off with the grand entry of the various ranch teams, complete with the traditional pomp and circumstance. The first event is the horse racing which includes the quarter mile, eighth mile, and relay races. Other traditional rodeo events include the uniquely Hawaiian, po‘o wai u, ranch mugging, and team roping. Paniolo will showcase the skills that have made the Hawaiian cowboys famous worldwide.

“This year we have what we call ranch mugging,” said Guilloz. “It’s a three-man team that have to rope a cow, tackle it, and tie its legs.”

At previous rodeos, one rider would rope the cow and hold it with the rope while on a horse. The other two participants would tackle it and knock it down. This year, they’ve eliminated the horse and added a new element of difficulty. All three team members will be on the ground and they’ll have to rope the cow themselves.

“They’ll have to run out there, rope it, tackle it, tie it up, and by the time they’re done they have to take the neck rope off and run back to the barrel,” Guilloz said. “It’s totally hilarious because by the time they are done with the cow, the guys have no energy left. These are big, buff guys. They’re really tough and strong and can knock a cow down, but by the time they do that, they have no energy to run back. It’s really funny.”

Tickets for the July 4th event are available in advance for $7 or $10 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, call 808-885-7311 or visit

Head’em up and move’em out!