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Cracker Day has changed slightly since it originated in the 1940s. The name changed in the ‘50s to Barbecue and Field Day and introduced what is now known as the county’s best barbecue lunch. The name was changed back after a couple years and, in 1952, the event drew a crowd of 1,000.
The site was changed from private land owned by I. I. Moody to land owned by M. C. Strickland, near Favoretta, until finally finding a permanent home in the 1960s on land that is has come to be known as the Flagler County Fairgrounds.
Although the locations and attractions have changed, there is one thing about Cracker Day that has remained the same for more than 70 years: it has always been a family event.
While looking around the arena during the rodeo, some families who have attended for five generations can be seen. Laura Boyd-Hughes, one of this year’s rodeo participants, is among them.
For Hughes, whose father Mike Boyd has been the Flagler County Cattlemen’s Association president since 1998, the event has grown from one that she grew up participating in to one that she returns home to Bunnell to participate in with her husband, Ramzi, and their six children.
Along with her brother, Jacob Boyd, Hughes and her husband will participate in the team steer roping competition. Her children are eager for the chicken and pig chase.
Although people who don’t live on the west side of the county can’t participate in as much as those who do, Hughes encourages everyone to come out and experience a different way of life.
“My family is pretty crazy about it," she said. "It’s just fun.”
At the 58th-annual Flagler County Cracker Day, sponsored by the Flagler County Cattlemen’s Association, held Saturday, March 30, spectators will experience a full-blown rodeo, which will include bull riding, barrel racing, sack race, chute dogging, buddy pickup, steer saddling and the ever-popular greased pig chase, chicken chase and shoe race.
All people bringing a horse must present a current negative coggins report to the state inspector. If one is not provided, the horse must leave the grounds.
The $10 price of admission includes a dinner of barbecued beef, baked beans, coleslaw, bread and beverage that is served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The beef, which has been prepared by the Victor Buckles family since the early 1980s, is cooked over blackjack oak that can only be found in sandy soil in North Central Florida. About 30 people help in the 20-hour cooking process of about 3,800 pounds of meat.
Beginning at 9 a.m., participants can sign up for the Cattlemen-sponsored chute dogging, steer wrestling, ribbon roping, buddy pickup and sack race. Barrel racers and bull riders were required to preregister, and no additional entries are taken on the day of the event.
An opening ceremony of a choreographed dance routine on horseback will be performed by the Flagler County Rough Riders, followed by the introduction of the Cracker Day honoree and queen. After, the bull riders turn up the heat with the beginning of the rodeo games.