FELLSMERE — Organizers of the 56th annual Fellsmere Cracker Play Day are expecting large crowds and hoping for clear weather this Sunday as more than 100 competitors race barrels, ride bulls and work together in teams to rope animals.
“It’s the cheapest rodeo in the nation,” Fellsmere Riding Club President Wayne Henderson said. Tickets cost $4 for children and $6 for adults for the 5-hour event, which starts at noon.
He is expecting approximately 20,000 people to attend – provided the weather cooperates.
“People look forward to this event,” he said.
When the event started 56 years ago, spectators and participants didn’t have bleachers or an arena. Instead, they circled their pickup trucks, which served as seating, and strung ropes between the trucks to mark the arena. In the years since, volunteers and donations have helped turn the makeshift rodeo area into the facility it is now.
“It’s the history of it,” Henderson said of why the Cracker Day rodeos are still being held. The event serves as a fundraiser for the riding club, which supports youth rodeos throughout the year.
Henderson said if not for continuing rodeos and getting the youth involved, there would be no future generations of rodeo riders.
“Our push is youth rodeo,” Henderson said.
This year’s event will feature 52 barrel racers, 40 bull riders, and 10 groups participating in the team roping events.
Cowboys and cowgirls participating in the Cracker Day Rodeo will be competing for cash prizes. The first place finisher in bull riding could receive $1,000, “we hope,” Henderson said.
Barrel racing purses could range between $400 and $500.
“It’s never too late for added money,” Henderson said for the purses, to cover the amount the Fellsmere Riding Club expects to put into the prize money.
However, it is too late to sponsor the event and get a sign printed to hang around the arena, Henderson said, though anyone who does donate could have their generosity recognized during the rodeo over the radio system.
“We’re always looking for sponsors,” Henderson said.
Fellsmere Feed and Tack has been and continues to be one of the biggest sponsors for the Cracker Day Rodeo and other Fellsmere Riding Club events.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Cracker Day or other events or wants more information about the Sunday event can call Wayne Henderson at (772) 473-0989.
The Fellsmere Riding Club is located at 13101 99th Street, Fellsmere.