South Creek Fox Hounds of the Tampa, Florida area recently hosted their Eighteenth Annual All-Florida Meet. Over the years, foxhunting enthusiasts from across the continent as well as Europe have participated, and SCF has enjoyed the company of several hunting icons including Aiden O’Connell and Jim Meads. Masters Robert Pelio of Palm Beach Hounds, C.R. and Carole Stanley and John Stanley of Four Winds Hounds were the honored guests this year. SCF and their guests hunted 3 different fixtures over the course of 4 days.
Festivities began with a Welcome party hosted by Barbara Phethean, Joint MFH and Jack Phethean, ex-MFH. Team roping was featured as attendees sat ringside, enjoyed plates of Cuban food and speculated on upcoming hunting. Thursday morning dawned cool with amateur huntsman, Sarah Fox casting 12 couple of crossbred hounds. The hounds worked hard, trailing through palmetto and high scrub. They struck on a coyote in a stand of planted pine but the quarry was soon lost as he high-tailed out of the territory. SCF members Tom and Barbara Gradin and Tracy Ramirez hosted a fabulous southern barbeque with all the fixings. The day concluded with a lavish Cajun-themed party hosted by J. Patrick Michaels, Jr., Joint MFH at Sheik Island Farm. Clinking glasses and hunting tales filled the aisles as guests mingled and feasted on crab dip, traditional crawfish pie, gumbo, crayfish etouffee and a deliciously warm, bread pudding.
Friday found riders tacking up by the light of a waning moon. Sarah again took the horn and led off with 13 couple. The hounds struck early; leading the field across open cow pasture and through palmetto, giving the front-runners an exhilarating view. As the field headed in, the hounds gave voice once again leading the field at a screaming pace. Lavinia Criswell, Linda Williams and Amy Chenard treated the field to a traditional hunt breakfast replete with chilled champagne and cold beer. And, as foxhunters will, most were soon off to nap and primp for the Hunt Ball. The black tie event of dinner and dancing culminated with the awarding of hunt colors.
Saturday was a relaxing afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs for a day of thoroughbred racing as the guests of Stella and Bronson Thayer, ex-MFH. The weather was typical for mid-February; northerners, I hate to rub this in, but ladies wore sun dresses and were forced to wear sun hats.
Sunday morning found us at a working ranch offering 6,000 acres of unspoiled country that has yielded fabulous sport. Professional huntsman Robert Douglas led off with 15 couple. Hound of the Year, 11 year old Claremont, opened and kept up with the pack as they screamed after two coyotes. The field trailed close behind, flying over coops and dashing through the palmetto bushes. The exhausted field was welcomed back to the music of steel drums and a fabulous Caribbean-themed tea hosted by Pippa and Richard Cook,ex-MDH.
All Florida Meet 2012 is tentatively scheduled for February 16-19th. Please visit www.southcreekfoxhounds.net for upcoming events.
Sharon Russell is a member of the South Creek Foxhounds and Co-Chairperson of 2011 AFM.