Thursday, July 5, 2012

Maui's Cowboy Country: Annual July 4th Parade & Rodeo This Weekend in Makawao

Hawaii's paniolo (cowboy) culture stretches back to the turn of the 19th century, when cows and horses were first brought here by foreign sea captains as gifts for Kamehameha the Great. Spanish vaqueros came to the islands in the 1820s to teach Hawaiians how to herd cattle and saddle up on horseback. Less than a century later, a Big Island ranch hand named Ikua Purdy won the world roping championships in Cheyenne Wyoming, setting (then) a new world record of 56 seconds.

That all goes to show how quickly and strongly cowboy culture took root in Hawaii. Starting on the Parker Ranch in Waimea (Kamuela) on the Big Island, it spread to other islands, including Maui on the slopes of Haleakala volcano. Every year around the July 4th holiday, the small upcountry town of Makawao puts on a parade with lei-draped riders on horseback and holds competitive roping and stock events at the Oskie Rice Rodeo Arena off Olinda Rd. This year the parade starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, 2012. Rodeo qualifying rounds kick off at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 6, and Friday, July 7, with the finals starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, and Sunday, July 9. Check the full events schedule published by Maui Magazine.

Want a sneak peek, or maybe you can't be there in person? Watch this YouTube slideshow video of the 2011 Makawao Rodeo, showing both women and men competing for top prizes. Year-round, you can visit Makawao in Maui's upcountry on your own. Book ahead for a guided horseback ride with Pony Express Tours, which leads day trips across the slopes of Haleakala volcano, both on a private ranch and inside Haleakala National Park's summit area on the Sliding Sands Trail, which is also open to day hikers and overnight backpackers. 

Related links:
Haleakala's Summit Wilderness: High Winds & Other Fascinatingly Dangerous Weather
NPR Interview: Hiking and Ecotourism in Hawaii
Welcome to Top Trails: Hiking on Maui

Photo credits: / CC BY 2.0 / CC BY 2.0

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