Hernando Sun Writer
For one day every year a small, oval-shaped fruit with a very unusual name takes center stage in Dade City, Florida.
The fruit is the “kumquat” and the occasion is the 22nd annual Kumquat Festival being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 in downtown Dade City. This is an entirely free event, with free city-owned public parking and free transportation from satellite parking lots.
Sponsors for this year are Florida Hospital Dade City and Florida Hospital Zephyrhills (soon to be AdventHealth Dade City and AdventHealth Zephyrhills), the City of Dade City, Visit Pasco, Visit Florida and other valued sponsors.
Now in its 22nd year, the festival started as a small event on the lawns around Pasco County’s iconic historic courthouse and it has kept on growing.
“This year, we are expecting around 30,000 visitors,”
said John Moors, executive director of The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, the event organizer. “People from all parts of Tampa Bay and its surrounding counties come to relish our kumquats and enjoy a day of fun, shopping and entertainment.”
The fruit with the “funny” name” looks like a miniature orange, but oval in shape. It has a sweet, delicious peel but the pulp inside is tart creating a surprising burst of flavor when eaten. Tip: Rubbing or gently rolling the fruit between your fingers before eating releases the sweet, citrus-like oils and enhances the flavor.
Kumquats are full of healthy goodness and contains antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, as well as Omega 3 and 6 which assists in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Local volunteers are many and work throughout the year to prepare for the festival. On festival day, volunteers will be arriving around 4 a.m. to greet the vendors and help organize their set up.
“We couldn’t do this without our volunteers,” Moors said. “We have more than 200 and all are invaluable.”
The festival will feature more than 400 vendors offering all kinds of arts and crafts, including quilting. There will be tasty kumquat treats like kumquat pie to kumquat cookies, smoothies, ice cream, marmalade, as well as kumquat salsa and other kumquat recipe specialties
Children’s activities will include games, face painting and pony rides. A show for car enthusiasts and a full itinerary of live entertainment throughout the festival
“Also available will be our kumquat beer made by a number of local craft beer breweries, Moors said. “There’s also kumquat wine for sale by the bottle,” he said.
Local kumquat farmers, including Kumquat Growers Inc., will be at the festival where visitors can learn all about kumquats and purchase some to take home. It’s an ideal fruit to make compote to add to pancakes, French toast, trifles and ice cream.
Kumquat Growers Inc., offers an Open House prior to the festival. Participants can listen to informative talks on the origin and history of kumquats in the Dade City area; the different types of kumquats and how they are used, picked, processed, packaged and shipped. For more information on the open house, go to kumquatgrowers.com.
“It’s our pleasure to present this event and I invite everyone to come enjoy this unique, quaint, ‘old Florida’ style festival,” said Moors.
For more information, go to dadecitychamber.org.
The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization with 450 plus members, committed to economic development and the quality of life for our residents.
IF YOU GO:
22nd annual Kumquat Festival
Where: Downtown Dade City
When: Jan. 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Free admission and free parking.
Free shuttles run continuously from the Pasco County Fairgrounds on State Road 52 and from a lot next to Jarrett Ford on the U.S. 301 Truck Route.
The shuttles run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Parking is available near the festival, but those spaces fill quickly.
Details: More than 400 vendors will be offering arts and crafts, foods and all things kumquat. There’s also live entertainment, activities for children, a car show and a quilt show.
Information booths will be scattered throughout the downtown area. Pick up your festival information flyer there.