The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for the Florida cowboy celebrations that had been planned for this year, but those events are just postponed, not canceled.
Organizers are now in the planning phase of the 2022 Great Florida Cattle Driver, according to Doyle Conner Jr., of the Florida Cow Culture Preservation Committee.
"To celebrate the Quincentenary (500 years) of the arrival of cattle to Florida, we are planning a very special year of special events of which the cattle drive will be the centerpiece. During a week-long cattle drive we will push 1,000 head of Florida Cracker Cows on a 60 mile off-road trail taking us through some of the biggest historical ranches in the state. We will also cross beautiful Old Florida woods and forests and preserves managed by various government agencies," he explained.
A new website is under construction to promote the drive and other events planned for 2022.
Conner explained the final plans for the drive will be announced at least six months in advance to give those who wish to go plenty of time to plan.
"Now is a good time to hobble break your horses, train them to stand tied to a tree all night long, or get used to an electric corral and/or ground staking (tethering)," he continued.
The Great Florida Cattle Drive Organizing Committee is also planning a Reunion Ride the last Friday of January 2022.
In 1521, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon brought the first cattle and horses to Florida’s shores. He attempted to settle in the land of the Calusa people around present-day Fort Myers but was sent packing by those Florida natives who had no interest in any European neighbors. The livestock remained, however, and from that day the cattle industry has been important to Florida and Florida has been important to the cattle industry of the United States.
In 1995, the Florida Cow Culture Preservation Committee celebrated Florida’s 150th Birthday by driving 1,000 head of Cracker cattle about 100 miles through some of Florida’s most beautiful and historic ranchland. More than 600 riders also made the journey, trying to stay as true as possible to the original cow hunter experience.
Participants wore authentic clothing, slept on the ground under the stars each night and enjoyed the adventure of a lifetime. The nightly cow camps included programs about the state’s history. This event was recognized as the largest celebration of the Sesquicentennial in the state.