On the same day that ‘pirates’ take over downtown Tampa in that city’s annual Gasparilla invasion and parade, the city of Dade City expects to embrace a more genteel invasion of its own — with thousands of visitors arriving for the 26th annual Kumquat Festival.
The festival — which draws its name from a tiny, sweet and tangy citrus fruit — began more than two decades ago when Phyllis Smith, Roxanne Barthle and Carlene Ellberg were trying to find a way to inject new life into downtown Dade City.
They decided to have an event to celebrate the kumquat because the Kumquat Growers, based in Dade City, are the nation’s largest producers of the fruit, sometimes described as “the little gold gems of the citrus family.”
The festival began small, on the lawn of the historic Pasco County Courthouse.
Over the years, the event spread through the city’s historic downtown core, and it routinely attracts thousands of visitors from the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
Besides giving people a chance to sample the distinctive flavor of kumquats, the festival also offers them a chance to experience Dade City’s hospitality, at a family friendly event, according to John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce.
It’s affordable, he added. There’s no admission charge, and there’s free parking, entertainment and activities.
The event is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Jan. 28. It will be held, rain or shine.
The event showcases Dade City’s “wonderful merchants and shops and restaurants” in the city’s historic downtown, Moors said.
Festival-goers who enjoy shopping can check out offerings from about 350 vendors — including an array of arts, crafts and other creations.
“It is a juried show, so the items that are being sold are quality items,” Moors said. Also, organizers “only allow certain amounts of various items in the show, which keeps it very eclectic.”
Entertainment will be offered at various locations around downtown, and there will be a vintage car show, children’s activities and other things to see and do.
Food and drink options will be plentiful.
Besides going to downtown restaurants, festival-goers also will be able to grab a bite to eat from food trucks and food vendors, too.
Those who enjoy adult beverages will be able to sip on kumquat beer or kumquat wine as they stroll from place to place, because on Kumquat Festival day, the entire downtown will be wet-zoned.
Of course, the kumquat is king at this event. And it will be available in myriad forms, including kumquat salsas, kumquat jelly, kumquat marmalade, kumquat marinade, kumquat salad dressing and kumquat barbecue sauce.
There’s kumquat ice cream and, of course, kumquat pie — which has been declared Pasco County’s official pie.
Moors expressed gratitude for the event’s dozens of sponsors, including headline sponsor AdventHealth.
The chamber executive also noted the festival relies heavily on volunteers, estimating that about 200 are pitching in this year.
26th annual Kumquat Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 28
Where: Downtown Dade City
Cost: Admission is free, parking is free, entertainment is free.
Info: Call 352-567-3769, or visit DadeCityChamber.org.
Kumquat pie is Pasco County’s official pie. Would you like to buy a slice? You can purchase one at the 26th annual Kumquat Festival, or, if you prefer, you can buy some kumquats and follow these directions to make your own.
1 9-inch baked pie crust
1 can condensed milk
1 8-ounce container of whipped topping
2/3 cup of Kumquat puree
1/2 cup of lemon juice
Beat condensed milk with whipped topping. Add lemon juice and beat until thickened. Add Kumquat puree. Pour in pie crust and chill for several hours. Garnish with Kumquats and mint leaves.
Source: Kumquat Growers website (Original recipe is from Rosemary Gude)
Kumquats have been called the ‘little gold gems’ of the citrus family. They are believed to be native to China and have a very distinctive taste. Kumquats are the only citrus fruit that can be eaten whole. The peel is the sweetest part and can be eaten separately. The pulp, which contains seeds and juice, is sour. Together, the peel and pulp taste sweet and sour. The seeds contain pectin, which can be removed by boiling for use in jams and jellies.
Source: The Kumquat Growers Association
Published January 11, 2023