Flagler County, FL – It’s a longstanding tradition in Flagler County – 65 years as a matter of fact, and it’s something Elbert Tucker has rarely missed in his more than 70 years in Flagler County.

On hand for barrel racing, bull riding and some of the best sliced beef barbecue lunch this side of the Mississippi River, the line heading into the Flagler County Fairgrounds was clear out to US 1 on Saturday as families headed out to the rodeo.

“It’s a throwback to how things used to be,” said Tucker. “They’ve held rodeos and Cracker Days since I was 9 or 10 and I’m 74 now. It’s been a long run. The only time I wasn’t here was when I was in college and in the Army.”

Watching the crowds flock to the stands, he could see the excitement in the faces of those headed out from the city to experience Florida’s agricultural community.

“It’s an eye opener for them,” he said with a smile.

In addition to crowing the Cracker Day Queen, an honor bestowed on Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly this year, the 65th Annual Cracker Day celebrations were dedicated to Randy Buckles.

Randy Buckles was honored that the 65th annual Cracker Day festivities were dedicated to him on March 26, 2022.

As the head of generations of Flagler County residents who’ve been serving up the Cracker Day lunch for decades, he was serenaded with applause from the stands as he was paraded through the arena to start the festivities.

Penny Buckles helped serve up the lunch.

Penny Buckles helped serve up countless lunches created from the more than 4,000 pounds of beef cooked by men from the Flagler County Cattlemen’s Association overnight. She was proud to see her husband honored for his dedication to a Flagler County tradition.

“It’s been a real honor for them to dedicate this Cracker Day to him,” she said.

“He’s been doing this for almost 45 years and like the dedication said they started out with 150 pounds of beef and are up to 4,000 pounds today. It’s a passion. Every year it’s a challenge for them to get the meat cooked just right because they use this Blackjack Oak and the coals from it, so it is  challenge and he just loves doing it,” said Buckles proudly.

2019 and 2022 Cracker Day Queens take a lap before passing the crown.

Near speechless, Randy stepped away from the massive grilling stations at Cattleman’s Hall to share his thoughts.

“It’s a great honor. We’ve been doing it for over 40 years. My family, my dad – my dad’s gone now so it’s me and my son, and it’s an honor,” said Randy, starting to tear up. “It’s not really work, it’s more of a tradition for all of us to hang out and cook all night long, and try to make a good meal for the people that like to come out and eat it.”

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly crowns the 2022 Cracker Day Queen.

“They come mostly for the food and that’s humbling,” he said. “Everybody comes in from around the towns, the city of Palm Coast and enjoy it and that really makes us feel good that they want to come out and enjoy something like this.”

Next up for the Flagler County Fairgrounds is the annual Flagler County Fair and Youth Show, with the 4H and FFA Livestock Show & Sale set for April 6-8, 2022. Details at www.flaglercountyfair.com.

Bull riders bring their all to the arena.