2016 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo

I love small town rodeos. Fortunately we have the Parker Ranch Rodeo right here, and we have regularly made the effort to attend each summer. The rodeo is a celebration of the ranching history of Waimea, a heritage that is alive and well in the ranching families that still earn a living raising cattle and practicing the old skills.

Paniolos head for the steers in the opening moments of the team mugging event

In past years the public had been allowed right to the rail of the arena at the conclusion of the horse races. This had allowed me to get really nice images of the riders without the fence in the shot, shooting through the rails. The last couple years this has not happened… A problem, I attend this event as much for the photographic opportunity as anything else.

This year I wrangled Deb and myself a couple media passes to the rodeo. Access to the pens, the chutes, and the arena fence… Perfect! The media contact at Parker Ranch was careful to explain the safety issues, no leaning over the rails, nothing through the fence, I can live with the stated rules.

We had a great time. Set up right on the fence for much of the day we had a clear shot at the action. I used a 70-200mm telephoto lens much of the day attempting to catch instants in the action that told the story. A rearing horse, dirt and dust flying under hooves, a rope in the air. The elements are all there, catching them at the right instant is a real challenge for a photographer. With the camera in servo mode I would fire short bursts at what I hoped was the right time. Sometimes it worked. As the memory card filled with over 800 images I found that some actually looked good.

Deb at the Rodeo
Deborah at the 2016 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo

Photographically it was the various mugging events that produced the best images. Team mugging, with a rider and several teammates on the ground wrestling a steer can photograph very well. The junior/senior ribbon mugging event with the kids and adults working together was equally photogenic.

Do not ask me who won and who lost. I really did not care to follow the winners and losers that closely. So much of a good score was really based on luck, did the steer buck or twist at the wrong moment? I just appreciated watching the skill and pride that was on display in these events. A skillful flip of the rope at the right moment, a well trained horse that did just the right thing to support the rider. That is what I enjoy in a good rodeo.

Of course there is the chore of processing my way through 800 photos from the day, selecting a hundred or so to pass on to Parker Ranch. That chore is just about done, I have finished mine, I just need to work through a pile of photos Deb gave me to process and add to the package.

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Anna Ranch

Often overlooked by tourists driving around the island, Anna Ranch is very much worth the stop. A little piece of island history preserved as it was.

Anna Ranch
The main house at Anna Ranch
At the ranch the paniolo and ranching history of the Waimea area is preserved. The complex of buildings are the heart of a classic Hawaiian ranch. This was the headquarters of a large cattle operation for over a century.

If you catch one of the two daily tours you get to see the interior of the house and hear stories about the history of the ranch. The tour is really the best way to properly visit Anna ranch.

You will hear about the indomitable Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske who ran the ranch through much of the twentieth century. A horsewoman and cattle expert she successfully kept the family ranch profitable, creating the ranch you see today. It was her dream to see the ranch preserved as a heritage center. Now run by a non-profit organization the ranch is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places, and on the National Register of Historic Places.

After the tour you can roam the gardens and the short “Discovery Trail” that leads behind the buildings. Along the trail there are interpretive signs that provide another view into the history of the area. This includes a bit on a historic battle that occurred on the hills behind Waimea.

An enclosed lanai at Anna Ranch
Unfortunately the smithy was not open for our visit. I have always enjoyed watching a blacksmith at work. Nothing like a forge and hot steel, one of the oldest technologies, to catch the fascination of an engineer like myself. I will have to stop in again some time.

The daily tours are conducted at 10am and again at 1pm. The cost is $10/person and reservations are highly recommended. You might find a spot on a tour at last minute, but do not count on it. Otherwise visiting the ranch is free, unless you stop in the little gift shop.

After so many years of driving past, I am glad we stopped in to see this gem of Waimea history.