July 4th Rodeo a go: Parker Ranch event returns after two-year hiatus

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo Barrel racing has been one of the competitions held at previous Parker Ranch July 4th Rodeos.

  • A team competes in the ribbon roping competition Thursday at the Parker Ranch July Fourth Rodeo and Horse Races. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • A team competes in the ribbon roping competition Thursday at the Parker Ranch July Fourth Rodeo and Horse Races. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

It’s time to get back in the saddle: Parker Ranch’s annual July 4th Rodeo and Horse Races returns to Waimea after a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus.

The 58th annual running of the historic ranch’s signature event gets underway at 7 a.m. Monday, July 4, with the rodeo commencing after the 9 a.m. grand entry into the Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena off Mamalahoa Highway. The action — horse races, ranch mugging, team roping, poʻo wai u and more — won’t stop until 1 p.m. In addition, there’ll be craft and food vendors and keiki activities, including a petting zoo.


“We are expecting a very large turnout this year,” said Jacob D. Tavares, livestock business operations manager for Parker Ranch. “We are really excited, as preparations are well underway. The whole town is buzzing.”

The July 4th Rodeo’s return comes as Parker Ranch marks its 175th anniversary. The ranch, established in 1847 by John Palmer Parker, is one of the largest and oldest cattle ranches in the United States.

“We are thrilled to be putting the rodeo on this year, especially as Parker Ranch celebrates its 175 anniversary. We can’t wait to see everyone,” Tavares added.

The signature event celebrates the community and commemorates Waimea’s unique ranching culture and way of life. The long-standing tradition promotes camaraderie and friendly competition among the various Hawaii Island ranches.

It is also an opportunity for the public to witness the skills that have made the Hawaii paniolo (Hawaii cowboy) famous throughout the world. Ikua Purdy, the great-grandson of John Palmer Parker, is among the most well-known paniolo, bringing home the trophy for steer roping in the 1908 Frontier Days World Championship in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and 100 years later being inducted into the National Cowboy Museum Hall of Fame.

“The history of the paniolo is fascinating,” said Tavares. “This way of life is still alive and well, and is exhibited not only through events like the rodeo and horse races, but also through the Paniolo Preservation Society, located just up the road from our arena at the Pukalani Stables.”

This year’s event will also honor Patti Cook and Carol Ignacio for their commitment and the contributions they have made to the communities of North Hawaii.

Tickets for the rodeo will be available for $10 at parkerranch.com or for $15 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. Pre-sale tickets will be available for purchase, beginning June 1, at the Paniolo Preservation Society, located at the Parker Ranch Pukalani Stables, and online through Eventbrite.

While COVID-19 put a quash to the rodeo the past two years, the ranch business has carried on, even providing six tons of grass-fed beef to the Hawaii Food Basket distributed ahead of the Fourth of July holiday in 2021. Just weeks later, on July 30, the Big Island’s largest brush fire in history ignited, scorching 37,000 acres of Parker Ranch land alone.

“Despite the challenges, we know the role we play in Waimea,” Tavares said. “Though we were unable to put on the Horse Races and Rodeo these past two years, we were able to shift our focus to the needs of our community.”

Parker Ranch feels very fortunate to continue the rodeo on its 175th anniversary and to bring the community together again.

“As a part of the Waimea community, we at Parker Ranch feel extremely fortunate to once again have the opportunity to put on an event that has brought so many of us together over the years,” they said. “The pandemic brought about many challenges, including a disconnect from spending time with one another, and enjoying events and activities that our community can take pride in. We are a small community, so having the opportunity to cheer on family and friends, as they show off their paniolo skillset, is really special. This annual rodeo and horse racing event highlights much of what makes Waimea’s ranching way of life so unique here in Hawaii.”

For more information, visit www.parkerranch.com.

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