By Ava Benedict
Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year is Cracker Country, Tampa’s only living history museum, located at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Consisting of 13 original historical buildings dating from 1870-1912, visitors can view and participate in the daily lives of Florida pioneers through a variety of activities.
Guests can churn butter, make candles, tour shops and homes and even watch a blacksmith create tools. Original artifacts are present throughout the property, with the cemetery, located right next to the church, featuring original headstones from the 1800s. The general store showcases different toys and treats that people living during this time period would have purchased for their families.
These interactive experiences have taught generations of students more about Florida history and pioneer culture, providing them with valuable opportunities beyond the classroom. Cracker Country’s hands-on encounters give everyone a chance to learn even more about the place we call home.
“The vision of Cracker Country’s founders, Doyle Carlton Jr. and his wife, Mildred Woodbery Carlton, was to develop a living museum that would showcase and share with the community the history of rural 19th-century Florida,” said Cindy Horton, director of museum operations.
Field trips for elementary school students can be booked now, and they are a great way for young children to witness history firsthand. These tours take students through the everyday lives of pioneers and give them a glimpse at how other children lived during the late 1800s. Visiting Cracker Country has become a tradition for many local schools over the years, making it an essential part of living in the Tampa Bay area.
Cracker Country will be open, with free admission, on Museum Day on Saturday, September 23 from 1 a.m.-4 p.m., as well as during the Florida State Fair from February 8-19, 2024, until 6 p.m. Other upcoming events include Tall Tales of Old Florida in October, a fun and spooky experience that takes visitors on a tour of the museum at night and is filled with strange tales. December means Cracker Country becomes transformed for Christmas in the Country, a festive day full of demonstrations and crafts.
For nearly a half-century, Cracker Country has been a staple in Florida culture and continues to showcase the state’s diverse stories as well as give students a firsthand look at history beyond the textbook. For more information about Cracker Country, visit its website at www.crackercountry.org.