OSCEOLA COUNTY — Dec. 4-10, some Hendry County, Palm Beach County and Okeechobee County residents were among the riders on the Great Florida Cattle Drive.
“Last week to celebrate 500 years of cattle and horse production in Florida 350 riders and horses and about 14 wagons pushed 1,500 head of cattle through 80 miles of the most historic and pristine ranches on this planet. They slept on the ground, they slogged through the wet, they choked down the dust and cussed the fire weed.
"Crackers, Yankees, city folks, country folks from New York to Brazil wanted to taste the life of our cow hunting ancestors. For six days and nights people of every color and creed learned to respect the difficulties that the old timers faced every day of their lives,” explained Doyle Conner Jr., chairman of the Florida Cow Culture Preservation Committee.
“I have a great deal of respect for all those who finished this adventure and even those who gave it their best shot. The trail was many things but it was not easy. I truly believe that if I told them we were gonna turn around and drive ‘em back, most would have saddled up.
“There aren’t any words powerful enough to thank the members of the Drive Committee who planned, promoted and produced this enormous undertaking over the last 4 years. The logistics of moving a large group through the wilds of our state can only be compared to a military operation.
“The Kirchman Foundation, Lake X Ranch, Deseret Ranch, The Kempfer Ranch, Escape Ranch, the Diego Medina Ranch and the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area shared with us the beauty of their holdings and we are forever grateful for their hospitality,” he explained.
“The Florida Division of Forestry, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Feeds of Ocala, the Osceola County Sheriffs Office, the Osceola County Fire and Rescue, the Osceola County Waste Management, Experience Kissimmee, the Florida Agricultural Museum and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association made this possible, kept us safe and on track.”
“I thank all our participants for keeping the land clean and sharing my desire to preserve the traditions and lifestyle of Florida’s cow culture even as 1,000 people a day move into our state,” he said. “I pray everyone returned home safe with a saddle bag of memories and a heart full of new friendships.”