Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up canceled for this year

Steers are led past the Ocala Downtown Square by members of the Marion County Cattlemen’s Association during the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up in Ocala, Fla. on Saturday, February 12, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted February 8, 2024 | By Caroline Brauchler

Bring the cows home, the annual Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-up will not be taking place again this year.

The annual drive, traditionally hosted by the city of Ocala, was called off last year because of safety concerns related to a tornado watch at the time. In previous years, the Cattle Drive featured cowboys driving Florida cracker cattle right through the heart of downtown, followed by a day of food, festivities and entertainment.

The drive first began in 2013 under the name of the “Rotary Discovery Fest,” then was renamed to the “Rotary Discovery Cracker Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-up” in 2015. Finally, it was dubbed under its current name in 2018 until the present, said city spokesperson Ashley Dobbs.

This year, city officials said they had no plans to put on the oncetreasured drive but instead said it would pass the duty off to a private organization.

The city of Ocala did not have plans to host the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up this year,” Dobbs wrote in an email. “A private organization expressed interest in continuing the tradition in future years and we are hopeful for its return in 2025.

This year, city officials said they planned to pass the torch onto the Southeastern Youth Fair to take over the city’s role in the drive for future years.

Southeastern Youth Fair Executive Director Sara LeFils said she believed the responsibilities would be taken care of in partnership, and that it was an honest miscommunication that led to the event’s cancellation this year.

“It’s a tradition that’s unique to our way of life and our community,” LeFils said. “We are hopeful we can partner together to keep the tradition going and see the cattle drive return next year.”

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