Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr. Cracker Country

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 over 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 Wanecski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

A Museum was Born

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. 

Mildred W. & Doyle E. Carlton Jr.

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