Cow­boy Coun­try

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - COWBOY COUNTRY -

Poke Around a Fun Cow­boy Town

Waimea’s his­tor­i­cal cow­boy roots in­spire a rus­tic kind of charm, the Is­lands’ own West­ern-Hawai­ian ver­sion of Aspen and Sonoma chic. There are art gal­leries, bou­tiques, won­der­ful lit­tle cafes, pan­iolo-in­spired col­lec­tions, and some of the most beau­ti­ful homes and neigh­bor­hoods on Hawai‘i.

Parker Ranch Cen­ter, in the heart of Waimea, of­fers a mix of invit­ing spe­cialty shops, restau­rants and ac­tiv­i­ties. Visit Parker Ranch His­toric Homes, ride the range on a Pan­iolo Wagon Tour, or sit at the cozy Fire­side Food Court and count your bless­ings.

Waimea (also known as Ka­muela) is the per­fect town for a dif­fer­ent taste of is­land life.

Go Big-Game Hunt­ing

Year-round hunt­ing sa­faris are an adren­a­line rush at Parker Ranch. We’re not talk­ing about hunt­ing rab­bits. Wild Van­cou­ver bulls with 35-inch horns lurk in the ranch’s re­mote rain­forests, wait­ing for a chal­lenge. Poly­ne­sian boars flour­ish in rolling grass­lands and dense forests, while Span­ish goats roam in rugged ter­rain. Bil­lies and Axis bucks carry up to 36-inch antlers and weigh 200 pounds. Game birds and turkey hunts are sea­sonal thrills as well.

Meat han­dling and cap­ping is in­cluded with hunts. Mounts can be ar­ranged upon re­quest. Bev­er­ages and snacks are sup­plied on all hunts. Call the ranch at (877) 885-7999 to in­quire about nec­es­sary hunt­ing per­mits and li­censes and to make reser­va­tions.

On Stage in Waimea

The Kahilu The­atre is one of Waimea’s cul­tural gems. Though it was founded in 1981 by the late Richard Smart (then-owner of Parker Ranch), it’s a the­ater quite set apart from the com­mu­nity’s cow­boy tra­di­tion.

Smart, who left Hawai‘i to pur­sue a ca­reer in singing, act­ing and danc­ing, per­formed on Broad­way for 30 years be­fore he re­turned to Waimea. It was his love of the busi­ness that prompted him to build a per­form­ing arts the­ater in the small, out-of-the-way com­mu­nity.

Kahilu The­atre’s cur­rent sea­son in­cludes well-known Is­land en­ter­tain­ers and in­ter­na­tional vo­cal and dance groups. Check the event sched­ule at www.kahi­luthe­atre.org.

Visit a School House Gallery

The Isaacs Art Cen­ter is a good place to get out of the sun and get a feel for au­then­tic Hawai­iana. The gallery is af­fil­i­ated with the Hawai‘i Prepara­tory Academy, a board­ing and day school that was es­tab­lished in 1949.

Isaacs Art Cen­ter con­tains a large per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of paint­ings, fur­ni­ture, rare books and Hawai­iana. Art pieces also are avail­able for pur­chase. The cen­ter is open Tues­day through Satur­day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is lo­cated at 65-1268 Kawai­hae Road in Waimea next to the HPA Vil­lage Cam­pus.

Ex­plore a Work­ing Cat­tle Ranch

Parker Ranch rolls over 150,000 acres of scenic up­coun­try ter­rain. It is the home of the first Hawai­ian pan­iola (cow­boys), a race­track where record-set­ting thor­ough­breds were trained and a still-func­tion­ing cat­tle ranch. It’s col­or­ful his­tory can be traced to 1809, when Mas­sachusetts sailor John Palmer Parker landed in Hawaii, be­friended King Kame­hameha I and even­tu­ally mar­ried the daugh­ter of a high-rank­ing Hawai­ian chief. Af­ter do­mes­ti­cat­ing herds of wild cat­tle on Mauna Kea, he pur­chased lands that even­tu­ally be­came Parker Ranch. To­day, the ranch’s char­i­ta­ble trust helps sup­port schools and hos­pi­tals in Waimea.

In the early 1900s, Eben “Rawhide Ben” Parker Low, a fa­mous Waimea cow­boy, proved the pan­iola’s worth when he com­peted in the Fron­tier Days cel­e­bra­tion in Cheyenne, Wy­oming. Low’s cousin, Ikua Purdy, took first place; his half­brother, Archie Ka‘au‘a, took third and his brother, Jack Low, took sixth.

Ex­plore the ranch for your­self on horse­back tours, through an ATV ride or with guided treks.

PHOTO: HAWAII TOURISM JA­PAN (HTJ)

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