By Cindy Jo Ayers
The old homestead surrounded by a grove of Spanish moss draped oaks has become the backdrop for many weddings in recent years. An antique surrey pulled by a draft horse only makes the setting at Cannon Farm Plantation even more special. The horse drawn surrey brings back nostalgic memories of days gone by, when farm wagons pulled by mules often traveled the winding dirt road to the old cracker farm. Sisters Tracey Wilkinson and Janie Coyne can often be found driving the antique surrey for a wedding at this special Gilchrist County events venue.
Tracey and Janie have enjoyed driving for a while now. They are Gilchrist County natives, growing up on their fourth generation family farm and graduating from Bell High School. Janie credits her late father, Bud Mathis for their love of horses. “We always had a love for horses, our daddy did too.” Janie said.
When Mr. Mathis, a former Gilchrist County Commissioner’s health no longer allowed him to ride a horse, his daughters decided that they would buy a wagon and drive their father around the farm. Unfortunately, Mr. Mathis passed away before his daughters had the opportunity to take him on a farm tour in their horse drawn wagon.
Tracey said, his first ride was actually his last. The family drove their father’s casket to the church in the horse drawn wagon and then took him to the grave site in it. Later the Mathis family honored their mother, Patsy Mathis, in the same manner when she passed away.
As the years went by Tracey and Janie enjoyed driving their wagon and team for their own personal enjoyment. The sisters formed 2 Sisters & a Buggy business and it has been keeping them pretty busy.
One of their first jobs was offering Christmas carriage rides at the Bell Town Lighting and at private parties and then weddings. Much of their driving is at Cannon Farm Plantation which is located just North of Bell off SR 129. The farm was established in 1932 by the Bob Cannon family and it still has many of the historic out buildings such as a corn crib and tobacco pack house.
Tracey and Janie both say the surrey pulled by their faithful Haflinger, which is a small draft horse, named “Sassy” is a perfect fit for the Cannon Farm Plantation venue. Not only do the bride and groom enjoy a ride in the surrey, but children and the older guest really enjoy the experience also. Janie said, “We really enjoy making people happy and our buggy rides do that.” Many people have never ridden in a horse drawn buggy or wagon, so for many people this is a first time experience, Janie explained. Some of the older people remember riding horses or riding in wagons when they were children, so the rides bring back happy memories of years gone by for them.
Tracey and Janie operate 2 Sisters & a Buggy on the weekends while working full time jobs elsewhere. During the past four years they have driven their surrey for many local events around Florida and South Georgia.
The sisters have made several trips out to Indiana, Iowa, and Georgia to pick up tack and supplies for their 2 Sisters & a Buggy business. Janie said, “These trips give them important sister time and a chance to have a good time together.”
If you would like to book 2 Sisters & a Buggy they can be found on facebook or call Tracey at 352-213-1449 or Janie at 352-562-1194. The Cannon Farm Plantation event venue can be contacted through facebook or call 352-231-5869.
Sisters and their buggy making events special
By Cindy Jo Ayers