When to Visit

Cracker Country is open for Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day in September, Christmas in the Country in December, the Florida State Fair in February, Homeschool Day, and private scheduled tours.
Cracker Country is not open daily to the public.
Christmas in the Country

Christmas in the Country

Saturday, December 10, 2016   Bring the family for a great day experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of an old fashion country Christmas. Learn how the holiday traditions of the 19th century...

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Florida State Fair

Florida State Fair

Every February during the Florida State Fair, Cracker Country opens its gates to the Fair’s guests! Take a stroll back in time and relax as you experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Florida's history....

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Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day

Date - TBA - September 2017   Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day is a national celebration of museums. On this day, you can visit Cracker Country and experience a historic rural Florida lifestyle for...

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Who are we?

A rural Florida living history museum.

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.

Right: Portrait of Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.


Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.

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.

Buckskin Whip


  • Kid-geared activities, informative tour guide who kept it kid-friendly.
  • The knowledge of the volunteers was amazing and I learned so much!
  • The great information on steam engines. Our docent was a great wealth of knowledge.
  • Friendly staff -- very informative with great stories. Rotations were good length to experience but also maintain attention.  Very well organized. :)
  • Enjoyed the atmosphere of a simpler, slower, quieter country Florida.
  •  This was great! Homeschooling & Cracker Country was a great combination.
  • I will always remember seeing how people used to live.  The kids had a great, educational time.
  • I liked how well organized it was! Great stories and hands-on experience.
  • Our guide did an awesome job of explaining the cattle, logging and past Florida industries to my students. This was great for our kids and I appreciate her knowledge.
  • The kids had a blast and the staff was fantastic!  We loved our guide!
  • Love this very much. Such a treasure for the fair.

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