Whip Cracking Takes Center Stage

This article was originally featured in Central Florida Ag News magazine, September 2015 edition.  Read the full article here:

The Sunbelt Ag Expo, the largest farm show in America, is right around the corner, offering everyone in the industry the chance to get together, swap stories, and show off a little! Held October 20-22 in Moultrie, Georgia, the expo offers field demos, educational seminars, and technology showcases. In addition, events like the Tractor Parade, auctions, and shows will ensure everyone has a good time. At this year’s event, AgAmerica Lending is pleased to bring the time-honored tradition of whip cracking to the Sunbelt Ag Expo stage!

With America’s farmers and ranchers at the heart of everything we do, AgAmerica Lending is excited to bring a part of Florida’s agricultural roots to the show to help celebrate. “Cattle ranchers are proud owners and stewards of the land in Florida and across the nation. We’re honored to partner with them in making their dreams of land ownership come true, and thrilled to bring a bit of Florida cattlemen heritage to the Sunbelt stage,” shares Phoebe Moll, AgAmerica’s VP of Marketing.

Whip cracking, or whip popping, originated on Florida cattle drives in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cattle handlers would crack whips to move their herds, thus earning the name “Florida Cracker.” The families of many of those early cattle folks stayed put in Florida, and the name became synonymous with being a descendant of the tough and hardy people who braved the heat and humidity, swamps, and mosquitoes of the Sunshine State, all without the benefit of today’s electricity and air conditioning. It hearkens to family roots that have been planted deep in the Florida soil for generations, and a life of growing up in a country frame of mind.

Today, whip cracking has joined the ranks of cowboy culture and has developed into an art form of sorts that is celebrated with ribbons and trophies at Rodeos and county fairs. Whip crackers use authentic whips to create complex rhythms and pull off fancy tricks. AgAmerica Lending’s team of whip crackers will perform each day at the Priefert Horse Arena Stage at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and will also be available for demonstrations and autographs at the AgAmerica Lending exhibit booth in Block A-9.

In addition to honoring our Florida ag roots, AgAmerica Lending is also big on family. Many of the ag producers they work with are family operations, and the whip cracking team is a family affair as well. There’s Cameron Cato, 18, who’s been whip cracking ever since his Uncle Doyle first showed him how at the age of seven. Raised near Ocala, Florida, Cameron participated in whip cracking competitions and raised livestock for Youth Fairs, and is proud of his Florida agriculture roots. “My great uncle and great grandparents were all Florida Crackers. It runs in the family— it’s in my blood,” Cameron says. His fellow whip crackers include brothers Ryan Waldman, 17; Grayson Waldman, 14; and Josiah Waldman, 12. Agriculture has been a part of their family for generations too; their great-grandfather was a whip cracker, and their cousin Mike Booth, another whip cracker, “started teaching me when I was just four years old. Since then, I’ve been hooked,” says Ryan. All the kids in the Waldman family have learned to take a whip in hand; the three eldest boys have competed and participated in whip cracking demonstrations all over the area.

As the nation’s premier land lender, and the proud sponsor of the whip cracking team at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, AgAmerica Lending hopes to see you and your family as they celebrate this time-honored tradition and enjoy a whip-popping good time.