flag  Museum Location
Florida State Fairgrounds
4700 Orient Rd.
Tampa, Florida 33610
Getting here

flag  Museum Admission

Next public opening: Florida State Fair
February 6-17, 2014

Admissions to Cracker Country included with Florida State Fair admissions ticket. Please visit FloridaStateFair.com for ticketing information. 

flag  Contact Info
813.627.4225 main number
813.627-4348 classes & tours
813.740.3518 fax

flag  Regular Museum Hours
The Museum is open to the public on
select days throughout the year.
Museum office is open
week days 9am-5pm.

flag  Connect
Find us on Facebook.


rship fee goes towards helping us develop our hands-on educational curriculum, and towards helping us maintain our collections and historic buildings. Becoming a member is great for you, too! ALL members enjoy:


A 10% discount at the General Store

Reciprocal benefits—including free or reduced admission and a gift shop discount— with local and national museums participating in the Southeastern Reciprocal Program (for a full list, click here)

Announcements of upcoming programs and events

Bi-yearly newsletter

The satisfaction of knowing you are aiding in the preservation of Florida’s rural pioneer folklife!

Below is a full list of membership levels and benefits.  

About Us

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.

Cracker Country focuses on providing educational opportunities for the public to learn about Old Florida.

Every year we see around 20,000 school children who learn about farm & household chores, community buildings, and the skills and trades of early settlers.

Our interpreters are a huge part of making our museum come to life.

These volunteers give their time to promote the preservation and public education on Florida’s unique past. We are seeking more volunteers to help share our history. If you have an interest or know anyone who might have an interest in becoming a volunteer please contact Jennifer Becker.

Additionally, every February during the Florida State Fair, Cracker Country opens its gates to the Fair’s guests!

The next Florida State Fair will take place February 6-17, 2014. Come visit and take a stroll back in time as you experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Florida’s history.

What is a Florida 'Cracker'?

“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.


 

A MUSEUM WAS BORN

Mildred W. & Doyle Carlton Jr

In 1977, Doyle E. Carlton, Jr., a member of the Florida State Fair Authority, along with his wife Mildred W. Carlton, felt the need for an exhibit to bring the rich history of early rural Florida to life.  Their vision began in 1978, when the Carlton House was donated by family members and moved from Hardee County to a four acre tract on the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.  Soon after the Smith House followed and a dream began to come true.

First opening to guests during the 1979 State Fair, the museum grew by leaps and bounds in that year with 7 buildings moved from all across the state of Florida and restored on site to their original turn-of-the-twentieth century appearance.  Additional buildings were added over the years with the Terry Store arriving in 1992. 

The Carltons' vision continues to shine bright and educate a whole new generation of Floridians about their past. Cracker Country continues to be supported today through their love and generosity.