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Calvin "Buddy" Mills

2015 Florida Folk Heritage Award Winner

Immersed in the Cracker cowboy lifestyle on a full-time working ranch, Calvin “Buddy” Mills learned to make traditional buckskin cow-whips from his father, the well-known Florida Cracker cowboy George “Junior” Mills. Junior Mills was an exacting craftsman who taught Buddy the skills necessary to make high-quality, functional whips. In high school, Buddy was a top rodeo competitor, and was eventually awarded a rodeo scholarship. Following a career with the Florida Department of Agriculture, he now teaches vocational agriculture at Yearling Middle School, a perfect platform for sharing his knowledge of buckskin whips, swamp cabbage, and other Cracker traditions. Regarded as an articulate, engaging, and tireless spokesman for Cracker heritage, Mr. Mills participated in the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship program in 2009 and 2011, and is featured in the Voices of Florida radio series. In 2010, he was one of only six tradition-bearers chosen to represent Florida at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the Western Folklife center in Elko, Nevada in conjunction with the exhibition Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition. With a dedication to preserving his heritage, Mr. Mills continues to make buckskin whips, and presents Cracker traditions and foodways annually at the Florida State Fair’s Cracker Country.