Wiegand Gallery Exhibition Features Florida Cattle Ranching Traditions
Elko, Nevada– The Western Folklife Center has installed a new exhibition in its Wiegand Gallery for the 26th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which starts today in Elko, Nevada. Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition explores the history and contemporary culture of the Florida rancher and cowboy, an occupation that began in the 16th century when Ponce de Leon first introduced Spanish cattle to the area. Florida's cattle industry is one of the oldest and largest in the nation and is vital to the state's well-being. Yet few know about Florida's unique ranching traditions, which have been adapted to the subtropical climate and influenced by the state's distinctive history. Florida has more than one million cattle and eclipses some western states in beef production, including Nevada and Wyoming. Many Florida cowboys are known as "Crackers," a moniker that refers to the pioneer descendents of the state as well as to the sound of the cow whip he (or she) traditionally uses to help move cattle through the Florida terrain. Cowboys from the Seminole Tribe also figure prominently in Florida's cattle history and culture.
Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition includes historical and contemporary occupational gear, clothing and tools of the trade used by Florida cowmen, as well as photographs and original artwork depicting them at work and play. In addition to this educational exhibition, the Western Folklife Center will also present cowboy poets, musicians and craftsmen from Florida and southwest Louisiana at the nation's largest annual celebration of cowboy culture—the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. From January 23-30, 2010, the small community of Elko will welcome thousands of cowboys and cowgirls, poets and musicians, artisans and scholars, rural and city people—all of whom share a love of the American West. The Western Folklife Center, producer of the event, is committed to sharing cowboy cultures from around the country and the world at this annual festival. In the past, it has presented cattlemen and women and their artistic traditions from places as far away as Mongolia and South America. In 2011, the event will welcome csikos from the plains of Hungary. Tickets to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased by calling 775-778-9695, or at the Ticket Desk in the lobby of the Elko Convention Center.
This exhibition will be on display in the Wiegand Gallery until July 24, 2010. It is free and open to the public during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Following the Gathering, admission is $5.00 for adults; $3.00 for students and seniors; $1.00 for children ages 6-12; and free for children five and under. Western Folklife Center members are free and their adult guests are $3.00. Admission to the Gallery is free on the first Monday of every month. The Wiegand Gallery is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday through Friday and from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday.
Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition was produced by the Florida Folklife Program, Department of State, and Florida Cultural Resources, Inc. Funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts/Folk & Traditional Arts, Florida Humanities Council, Florida Cattlemen's Association, Florida Cattlemen's Foundation, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Cracker Cattle Association, Lalla Rook Tompkins, Iris Wall, Susanne and Pete Clemons, the National Endowment for the Arts, the R.C. Baker Foundation and the Deseret Ranch.
The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.