Rodeo Weekend

No big plans for Fourth of July this year? No BBQ invites, family gatherings, no big rock shows to go to, no friends coming to town? Well, don't spend the Fourth moping around your apartment wishing you were dead... get your ass to the rodeo.

You've got two rodeos to choose from this weekend, and showing up will assure that you've got a bitchin' Fourth of July story to tell when you go crawling back to work. Catch the bucking broncos, barrel racing, calf roping, milking, rodeo clowns, and steer wrestling, supplemented by less testosterone-fueled activities like carnival rides and games, BBQs, parades, pageants, and fireworks. Both rodeos are action packed, with equal parts family fun and raucous partying. Plus, you're bound to meet some folks outside your normal social scene--which, if you don't mind me saying, sounds like just what you need. KATIE SHIMER

St. Paul Rodeo, I-5 South to Exit 278, rodeo performances Thurs-Sat, July1-4, 7:30 pm (plus 1:30 performance July 4), or 503-633-2011 for more info, $14-18

Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo, I-5 South to Hwy 211 to Molalla, Fri-Sun, July 2-4, rodeo performances 8 pm daily (plus Sat-Sun 1:30), 503-829-8388 or for more info, $10-14; Sat matinee, $5

Fourth of July

Hey patriots! Are you wallowing in political confusion over the state of the nation? Feeling uncertain about what it really means to be an American? Thinking of going ex-pat? The Fourth of July is the perfect day to FORGET ALL THAT, eat a fucking corndog, and watch brightly colored explosions with your family. Check out your options.

* Come see the biggest fireworks display west of the Mississippi. More than 1200 fireworks will be launched from a barge on the Columbia River. Over 60,000 people will be there, so it's bound to be crowded, exciting, and explosive. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, 750 Anderson St., Vancouver, WA

* If you don't want to brave the traffic to Vancouver, Portland-side pyrotechnics are as close as Oaks Park. The amusement park opens at the break of dawn and just keeps on amusin' til the sun goes down. A great spot to watch the display, ride rides, and eat fair-y food like cotton candy and elephant ears. Oaks Park, SE Spokane Street

* Blues fans, put your running shoes on. The Safeway sponsored blues fest features a roundup of International Blues Fest winners and a harmonica blow-off on the Fourth, plus fireworks starting at dusk. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Admission $5 plus two cans of food

* I've never met a person who dislikes pretty lights, but if darkness and dancing vegans sound more appealing to you, don't fret: there are others like you! The Jonny X and the Groadies Vegan Chili Cookoff includes vegan prizes, vegan dancing, vegan costumes, and music. Come party like it's 1776. Liberty Hall 311 N. Ivy St., 6pm, $5 EVAN JAMES