The Volusia County Cattlemen’s Association is preparing for Cracker Day coming up on Saturday, April 28. As a way of piquing community interest in what the cattlemen do, they recently entertained on bucking broncos and horseback at a professional rodeo on February 10 and 11 at the Cattlemen’s Building, Volusia County Fairgrounds. Gernie Geiger’s professional rodeo company coordinated the event.
The Volusia County Cattlemen’s Association in a non-profit organization. They sponsored Cracker Day Rodeo for the first time back in 1949. Cracker Day Rodeo was so successful it became an annual tradition and has since served to promote awareness of Volusia County’s cattle industry.
“We wanted to provide the county with a local event they can come (to) and enjoy with their family,” said Jeff LeFils, Volusia County Cattlemen’s Association president.
At the rodeo, there’s entertainment for everyone as bull riders compete for longest time aboard bulls who see how fast they can get the rider off. Barrel racers race their horses in a cloverleaf pattern for fastest time to the finish line. There’s team roping and calf roping and lots of things for a family to do.
The cattle industry is built on family traditions, but rising prices in fuel and feed costs is threatening the future of cattle farms. Severe storms and drought has also played a part in jeopardizing cattle farms.
“Cattle numbers as a nation are down. A lot of people sold out,” said LeFils.
“We need government and county agencies to consider leasing out property to help, so people like myself and younger people can earn a living in agriculture,” said LeFils.
LeFils grew up in his family’s cattle business in Volusia County. At 28, he believes in the industry’s future and encourages the next generation to take a serious look at agricultural careers.
“If agriculture isn’t in your background, (young people should) go into their FFA and 4-H clubs in school. Agriculture is always in the future and there’s nothing more important that you can do every day than eat and drink. It’s tough (being in an agriculture business), but tough is fun because it’s a challenge,” said LeFils.
Volusia County Cattlemen’s Association will host the 63rd Annual Cracker Day Rodeo on Saturday, April 28 at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand. For information visit VolusiaCountyCattlemensAssociation.com.