The annual Florida Cracker Trail Ride will travel from Bradenton to Fort Pierce next week following the trail once traveled by Florida Cracker Cow Hunters.
The Florida Cracker Trail Association is a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to the mission of “Keeping History Alive.”
According to the Florida Cracker Trail Association website, “The early Crackers would hunt and round up cows over the wooded rangelands and miles and miles of open plains, in the hammocks, and by the rivers and streams, and had a unique way of herding cattle. The Crackers relied on bullwhips to flush cows out of the palmetto scrub and spur on oxen that pulled their carts and wagons. They used 10- to 12-foot-long whips made of braided leather. The snaps of these whips would break the sound barrier making a loud CRACK.”
Each year, the Crackers gathered west of Fort Pierce to drive their herd of scrub cattle west across the state toward Bradenton and then to Tampa, Punta Gorda, and Punta Rassa, to ship them to Cuba.
The annual ride does not include cattle. It re-enacts the riders and wagons returning home after successfully selling the cattle.
Over six days, the horses, wagons and mules will travel 116 miles.
Some Okeechobee area residents may see the riders pass their way.
On Thursday, the riders will travel through Highlands County and stop for lunch at the Edna Pearce Lockett Estates. They will continue across the Kissimmee River into Okeechobee County and make camp at the Bass Ranch.
On Friday, the group will ride from the Bass Ranch to the Adams Ranch.
The ride ends Saturday with a parade through downtown Fort Pierce.