Cracker Day 2019 will be celebrated Saturday, Oct. 18, at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds, marking the 60th anniversary of this event which pays tribute to the St. Johns County agricultural community.
Sponsor is the St. Johns County Cattlemen’s Association, and location is the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on State Road 207, west of St. Augustine.
This year, the celebration has two missions says Terrell Jones, president of the cattlemen’s group. One is to re-install the Agricultural Hall of Fame, a project introduced to the community in 1998. The goal, Jones and Tim Wilson, St. Johns County Extension Director, explained recently is “to bring awareness as much as possible” regarding agriculture in not only St. Johns County, but the adjoining counties of Flagler and Putnam.
The second is to emphasize the importance of the agricultural industry to this county. Horse competition, barbecue, a variety of special booths and displays including Cracker Cows and the art of whip cracking mark the yearly event.
As is the tradition, special recognition is given to an individual who has contributed to the industry, and this year the cattlemen have selected Geralyn Sachs, 4-H Coordinator for St. Johns County.
Sachs leads a staff whose goal is to nurture youth in their development through a variety of clubs ranging from husbandry and agriculture to public speaking and crafts.
The Hall of Fame is being created in the lobby of the Agricultural Center, on Agricultural Center Drive. In 1998 10 were named to this Hall of Fame, selected on the basis of contributions to the agricultural industry in terms of service, farming, timber and ranching. They included George M. Beach, farmer; Nettie Ruth Brown, service to agriculture and cooperative extension; William Earl Byrd, farmer; Shirley Ann Cooksey, service; Howard W. Mizell Sr., timber producer; Paul Dinkins, service to agriculture; J. Gordon Middleton, service to agriculture; S.A. Snyder, rancher; Allen Nease, timber producer; and H.E. Wolfe, rancher.
Gates open at the Fairgrounds at 7 a.m. Oct. 19. Horse games sign-up is at 8 a.m. with run at 9 a.m. Registration ranges from $5 for lead line to $15 for open.
Friday night camping is available for $22.
Horse competition includes everything from pole bending to cow pony races.
Admission to the event is $5 per vehicle. Patrons can enjoy 4-H exhibits and booths, whip cracking competition, an opportunity purchase a ticket to win a handcrafted Cracker Whip and a gourmet delight of barbecue dinners prepared by Jerry Stalvey.
Plants, cold drinks, arts and crafts and much more will be displayed at the various vendor booths.
Florida Cracker Cattle and Horses are described as of moderate size, brought to Florida in the 1500s by the Spanish. And each year, the St. Johns County Cattlemen’s Association pays tribute to both that date back centuries “just because it has to be done,” said Chuck Stevens, former local association president. There is a need to carry on the tradition of telling the history of Florida Crackers.