Cracker Country is Tampa’s only living history museum and is located on the Florida State Fairgrounds. It was founded with the purpose of preserving Florida’s rural heritage in 1978 by Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton, Jr.
The museum holds a collection of 13 original buildings dating from 1870-1912 which were relocated from across the state of Florida. Our buildings range from public buildings like our Terry Store and Okahumpka Train Depot, to private buildings like our Carlton and Smith homes. Today, the historically furnished buildings recreate the lifestyles of the past, and costumed interpreters portray daily living as Florida pioneers.
“Crackers” derive their name from the rugged 19th century pioneers who developed the wild territory now known as Florida. Cattle roamed freely in the Florida woodlands and had to be rounded up before being sold and shipped up north or to Cuba. Lariats, or lassos, didn’t work in the thick underbrush—instead, cow hunters used whips to round them up. The whips were not used to strike the cattle, but were actually popped or “cracked," resulting in a sound similar to a rifle shot. These cracking whips would get the cattle moving and could be heard over very long distances. When early settlers heard the sound they would say, “Here come the Crackers.” The name has stuck and the term “Florida Cracker” is still used today to describe native born Floridians.