In a celebration of the central Florida ranching and cattle industries, the eighth annual Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up was held Saturday, February 8th in downtown Ocala. Cowboys, cows, Florida cracker horses and dogs paraded from downtown Ocala to Tuscawilla Park where games, food, demonstrations and live music showcased the cattle industry’s culture.
All proceeds benefit Tuscawilla Park’s neighbor—the Discovery Center, a hands-on, interactive educational facility located in the former Armory.
Parks Division Head for the City of Ocala, Bill Rodriguez, has attended four previous round-ups.
“I absolutely love this event,” he said while walking the parade route.
“My favorite part is watching the cattle come down the road, watching the cattlemen work, watching the dogs work, keeping our old traditions and history alive.”
Brett Bass and The Melted Plectrum performed on the main stage near the Reilly Arts Center. The Palace Saloon Revue Dancers performed can-can dancing and The Big Bad, a duo comprised of Corrin Ella Scott and Kit Lang, highlighted their musical talents with covers and originals. Scott also sang the national anthem.
With popcorn and lollipops in hand, sisters Isabella Gray and Braylin Gray, both 10, walked the cattle drive route with their father, Curtiss Gray.
“I’m excited to see the cows and the cowboys and to see all the cows running through the street,” Braylin said.
“And I’m really excited for the duck race to happen,” Isabella added.
Families immersed themselves in all things ranching with the Kid’s Corral. Activities included corn trough, lasso practice, milk the cow, slingshot practice, stick horse races, tube rolling, checkerboards, pony rides, mechanical bull rides, an interactive 1800’s fire engine, tractors, trailers and a petting zoo. The first-ever Marion Rotary Duck Derby was held in conjunction with the Cattle Drive.
Ava Sachs, joined by her mom and two younger sisters, celebrated her 11th birthday watching the parade of cowboys from the sidelines near the Reilly Arts Center. Sachs attended a Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up once before and was excited to see the horses, she said.
“There’s fun activities and horses. There’s crafts and cool snacks and milkshake places. It’s just really fun.”