Florida Agricultural Museum officials have plans for new programs and exhibits that they hope will raise public awareness of the state-sponsored attraction.

Sitting on 460 acres in northern Flagler County, the Florida Agricultural Museum has been a largely undiscovered gem since it was established in 1983 as Florida’s official museum of agriculture. But museum officials have plans for new programs and exhibits that they hope will raise public awareness of the attraction.


“We hear every week that people don’t know we exist,” said Kara Hoblick, the museum’s executive director. “They drive past all the time and don’t come in, so we’re trying to get people here.”


That was the idea behind Friday’s “media day” event, and Hoblick said there are a lot of things to see and experience at the museum at 7900 Old Kings Road North.


“We’re moving forward and we have so many exciting things going forward,” she said. “People need to be part of it, they need to come out and experience it.”


The media day tour started in the Caldwell Dairy Barn, one of several historic structures relocated to the Flagler County property over the years.


Special events director Tina Morrison said the museum is more than just buildings and exhibits. The site offers regular tours, the recently added Old Florida Museum, visits to the Hewitt Sawmill off of U.S. 1, an equestrian facility, as well as space for weddings and special events.


“Those are all the different balls we have going on in the air here,” she said.


Heading out from the barn, Hoblick showed off some of the museum’s livestock including Florida cracker cattle that are descendants of the first animals brought to the New World by Spanish settlers.


Hoblick said the sequestrian operation was added a few years ago, when museum were looking for new sources of revenue.


“This facility was never meant to be an equestrian facility,” she said, “but it’s been a very successful part of the museum.”


Hoblick said there are 23 horses currently being boarded at the museum.


Because the museum is in the northern part of the county and includes amenities like the horse boarding facility, Hoblick said it leaves many residents and potential visitors with the impression that it is tucked far out of the way.


“People have the perception we’re so far out in the country,” she said. “We’re only 10 minutes from Palm Coast.”


Hoblick said with several housing developments on tap for the area, the museum is likely to get more attention.


“There’s a lot of growth in this area,” she said.


Friday’s media tour continued with guide James Fiske dressed as a Spanish settler. Taking the group through the Traxler Commissary and other buildings, Fiske explained the realities of daily life in Old Florida.


Doing double-duty as tractor driver, Fiske took the group out to see the rest of the museum grounds, including stops at the Old Florida Museum site and the Clark Family Homestead property.


The Old Florida Museum, which moved to the Agricultural Museum from its original site in St. Augustine last year, offers school groups up to six different historical experiences and is fast becoming one of the most popular parts of the attraction.


Program manager Dan Carignan said the interactive museum offers students an opportunity to learn about Florida’s past in an outdoor setting.


“They learn more from having fun and being entertained than from a lecture,” he said of studenta who visit the exhibits.


Carignan said 90 percent of the revenue raised by the Old Florida Museum comes from fourth-grade tours. But museum officials are looking for some additional help to complete construction of the site.


A bill working its way through the Florida Legislature would provide $795,000 to do more work.


“With funding like that, it is going to allow us to do several phases of what we’re trying to complete here,” Carignan said. “Because of a lack of funding, construction is going fairly slow.”


Even with the slower pace, student tours have been passing through the site, with more school groups scheduled.


The last stop on Friday’s tour was the Clark Family Homestead, which featured authentically prepared food by museum guide Cathy Tallacksen and a demonstration of distilling techniques by Charlie “Cracker” Langrick.


The homestead itself, which was moved to the museum grounds from its original location in Osteen, was built in the 1880s and served as the Clark home until the 1940s,


For Charlie Cracker’s demonstration, he had examples of distilling equipment and a few samples of home brew available for guests to go along with Tallacksen’s fare.


For Hoblick, the future of the ag museum is bright and with more community support and awareness, she said things will only get better.


“This place needs to shine in the entire state of Florida,” she said. “Things are really happening.”