David Nelson


On May 24, 1998, a self-identified "Florida Cracker" singer-songwriter named Bobby Hicks swaggered onstage at the Florida Folk Festival armed with a guitar and an attitude. This was the forty-fifth year of the festival, a state funded event co-sponsored by the Florida Folklife Program and the Florida Park Service. Since 1953 the event had been held each May at the Stephen Foster Memorial State Park in White Springs, the boyhood home town of Fred P. Cone, governor of Florida between 1937 and 1941. The first year of his term, Cone argued that a memorial to Foster should be built in his ancestral home on the banks of the Suwanee River in North Florida, and then proceeded to make sure it happened.1 Cone's enthusiasm was so great for the project that he attempted to arrange for both Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers and a Public Works Administration (PWA) crew to construct the memorial, even though he was an active opponent of the New Deal.2