"Independence" means the freedom to bust broncos, and the towns of St. Paul and Molalla are both are hosting four-day rodeos this Fourth of July weekend--with nearly identical schedules. Both boast bronco races, eight-second bull rides, and 10-gallon cowgirl beauty pageants. But the St. Paul rodeo has upped the ante with such yee-haw attractions as lasso competitions and the dirty sounding "wild cow milking" contest. Both run Friday through Monday, with shows nightly at 7:30 in St. Paul and at 8 in Molalla. Both towns have an additional 1:30 pm matinee on Monday. Fireworks cap off each night. To reach the St Paul Rodeo, take I-5 south to Donald Exit (about 15 miles south of Portland), $12-16 entrance fee; Buckaroo Days in Molalla, east on Route 211 off I-5, $10-14.

If animal cruelty's not your style, our area packs an amazing amount of gunpowder per square inch, with no fewer than five major fireworks shows--all visible on a clear Fourth of July night from Mount Tabor. To the north, Fort Vancouver claims the largest firework display this side of the Mississippi. From I-5 North, exit in Vancouver at East Mill Plain Rd., park opens at 11 am, fireworks at 10, $3 per person entry fee (or $5 per family)

In town, the annual firework duel starts around 10 pm with what Oaks Park claims is the "best show" in Portland. Oaks Park, just north of the Sellwood Bridge, 10 pm, for $13.50 enjoy rides and rollerskating from noon until midnight. At the same time, further north, PGE Park caps off a Beaver's baseball game with its own fireworks. PGE Park, games starts at 7 pm, fireworks at 10 pm, $6

And, not to be ignored, the annual Waterfront Blues Fest finishes its weekend with a splashy pyrotechnic show. This year, the festival actually boasts some music that doesn't suck, including Buddy Guy on Friday and the good times' New Orleans band The Subdudes on Saturday. Most notably, the main stage takes a break from the traditional gritty blues to make way for Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe's Bob Dylan. Outspoken enough to be living in exile from his home country, but optimistic enough to be playful on stage, who better to stand up for the American ideals of free speech! Waterfront Park, music on Fri-Mon, 7 pm, fireworks, Monday at 10 pm.

For a more laidback Independence Day celebration, head a few miles east to Blue Lake; a sprawling beach and picnic area. Bring your swim trunks, because the late arrival of summer also means that the water's fecal content remains refreshingly low! Exit 14 off I-84, food court and family activities start at 11 am, fireworks at 10 pm, $7 per vehicle.

And, in perhaps the oddest Fourth celebration ever, the people who bring the Halloween haunted house "Scream at the Beach" now offer a "Monster Beach Bash," including a "haunted" tiki room and a zombie chorus girl line. The Fort Vancouver firework show is visible, they claim--perhaps from their parking lot, out back by the dumpsters. Jantzen Beach off I-5, Monday, 3-7 pm, $10, includes dinner! PHIL BUSSE


Whoopee! It's Kumari and Ohmega's birthday! Never heard of them? Well, that just goes to show how awesome they are, because they've invited all of Portland to their shit-hot roller disco birthday party at Hillsboro Skateworld!

And while traveling to Hillsboro requires some carpooling, the experience will be totally worth it, because Kumari and Ohmega's party--appropriately entitled "The Get Down"--is going to be THE eight-wheeled blast of the social season. Picture it: Dudes and dudettes decked out in their hottest afros, zip-up jumpsuits, and hot pants zipping around the floor bustin' the roller disco beat. Prizes will be awarded to the best costumes and Soul Train line dancers! Even better, Portland's best b-boys and freestylers will be on hand to kick it wild style to the spins of DJs Othertempo & Sir Round (disco), DJs Bombay & Puerto Roc (old school hiphop), and Demetre & Adam O'Suna (techno). Plus! A live performance by local hiphop purveyors, Lightheaded!

So get with the glitter, and don't miss this once in a lifetime roller boogie soiree. And don't forget to thank Kumari and Ohmega for being born! WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

The Get Down, Hillsboro Skateworld, 4395 SE Witchhazel in Hillsboro, Midnight- 4 am, Friday, July 1, $5.75 includes skate rental, '70s regalia encouraged!


Man, has it really been two whole years since Backspace opened up downtown, creating a then unheard of mix of video gaming, art gazing, and coffee drinking?

Well, I guess so, because they're throwing a second anniversary party--and if it wasn't really their second anniversary, I'm assuming somebody would bust them on it. Regardless, they're going all out to ensure their loyal clientele--be they gamers, art snobs, or music lovers--have a blast this weekend.

Friday kicks things off with no less than four bands--Guyve, I Am the Arm, Cootie Platoon, and the Wanteds--and ends with an act from performance artists Shift. Saturday keeps things rolling with a two vs. two b-boy battle, followed by three DJs who'll keep the beats thumping until dawn. And Sunday wraps things up with a free retro gaming fest and a raffle for a bright 'n' shiny PSP. Still not enough? Well, throughout the weekend, Backspace will be packed with the work of over 200 artists! This is just getting ridiculous. EH

Backspace, 115 NW 5th, 248-2900. Fri bands at 8 pm, $5 (proceeds benefiting local charities); Sat b-boy battle from 4-9 pm and DJs from 9:30 pm to dawn ($5, proceeds benefiting "Friends of the Children" charity); Sun "retrocade installation," 12-6 pm, FREE.