What is Cracker Day?
The Flagler County Cracker Day is an annual event that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Florida cowmen and cow hunters, also known as Florida Crackers. The early crackers would hunt and round up cows over the wooded pasturelands using 10- to 12-foot bullwhips. The snapping of these whips would crack so loud and fast they actually break the sound barrier, hence the name Florida Cracker. Many crackers rode rugged, small horses known as cracker ponies and relied on cattle dogs to drive cattle. Every year now, we celebrate these cowmen at the annual cracker day where locals gather to enjoy great food and events provided by the Flagler County Cattlemen’s Association.
Cracker Day is fun for the whole family to enjoy. Like any rodeo, Cracker Day hosts a wide assortment of cowboy contests like bull riding, bulldogging, sack races, barrel racing, chicken chasing, pig chasing, mutton busting, cow roping, and more. Below are some pictures taken by local photographers as well as descriptions of each event. Paid entry is required for many of the events with prizes to be paid out to the winners.
Steer wrestling, also known as bulldogging, is a rodeo event in which competitors try to get a steer onto his side the quickest possible by wrestling it to the ground. Usually, competitors will start on horseback and then drop down on the steer from the horse. This event is can be very dangerous for the cowboy.
In this event, teams consist of two members, one rides on horseback while the other stands at the other end of the arena with their sledding sack. The horseback rider races to the other end of the arena, hitches the sack rider to their saddle, and drag them back to where they started. The first team to make it back to the starting point on the sack wins.
Sheep riding, or Mutton Busting, is a contest similar to bull riding where children ride or race sheep. The goal is to stay on the sheep the longest while the animal is running. It is very common to see riders tossed from the sheep shortly after the gate is open.
This is another youth event where dozens of children compete with each other in an attempt to catch a handful of chickens. Chicken chasing is a hugely popular event at the annual Cracker Day and is free for kids to participate in.
Ribbon roping is a team rodeo contest which consists of a team of two – a rider and a runner – and a steer with a ribbon attached to its tail. The rider must rope the steer and dally him, by wrapping the rope around the his saddle horn, and then the runner must grab the ribbon off the steer’s tail and run it back to the starting box.
This is another team rodeo event consisting of teams of four. In this event, each team starts with a steer in a bucking chute. When the buzzer sounds chutes are opened and the teams must then stop, restrain, and saddle the steer. Once the steer has been saddled, one of the team members must ride the steer to the finish line. If the rider falls or is bucked off they can remount as many times as needed. The winning team is the first to make it across the finish line with the rider mounted.