The 24th annual Kumquat Festival will take on more of a spring feel, among other twists and turns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The popular event traditionally held the last Saturday in January is instead set for March 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in downtown Dade City, around the iconic Historic Pasco County Courthouse; the original event date was pushed back due to COVID-19.
The Kumquat Festival is organized each year by The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce in coordination with other community stakeholders.
And, it’s all in the name of celebrating, of course, kumquats — a tiny, tart citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia, but grown in Dade City.
The festival features all things kumquat, including such specialties such as kumquat ice cream, kumquat pie and kumquat beer. You might also find some non-edible items such as kumquat lotions, balms and body butters.
As in previous editions of the festival, downtown Dade City will be transformed into an open-air marketplace featuring local businesses, hundreds of specialty vendors and dozens of partner sponsors.
Other happenings throughout the day include:
- “Kumquat Growers” series to learn about and purchase kumquats
- Farmer’s Market
- Kid’s Corral with a variety of activates for children of all ages
- Quilt challenge
- Car and truck show
Some of the more interactive live entertainment options have been pared down from prior years, however, out of COVID-19 health and safety precautions. There won’t be shuttle services to remote parking lots, either, because of COVID-19.
Admission is free. Self-parking will be available throughout the city limits and downtown, including private lots, church lots and street parking. Masks will be required by all vendors and attendees.
The festival — which puts Dade City at the regional fore for the day — otherwise epitomizes the locale’s “iconic, old Florida, down home sort of feel,” chamber Executive Director John Moors told The Laker/Lutz Newspaper in a recent interview.
“I think the whole fact that it’s kumquats is kind of a funny thing,” Moors said. “There’s lots of strawberry festivals, blueberry festivals, all sort of other things, but this is the only one we’re aware of that actually features kumquats and a lot of folks aren’t even sure what a kumquat is, so it kind of lends itself to that quirky, kind of fun, sort of entertainment day that you don’t find at the wonderful theme parks that Florida offers.”
Scaled back, but still lots to see and do
The event will showcase around 250 vendor booths — each spaced about 12 feet apart instead of side-by-side as in previous years.
Due to physical distancing requirements, organizers had to cut back on about of a third of vendor booths from prior years.
While forced to scale down overall, organizers felt it important to still put on the family friendly event for the community, Moors said.
“This year, we just really wanted to have an event because there isn’t a lot going on and so many things have been canceled and we just thought, ‘Well, if we can do this safely, let’s just give it our very best shot and try to keep everybody safe,’” Moors said. “It’s going to be different, and maybe not as convenient as it has been in the past, but hopefully we have a successful day and a successful event, and then next year we’ll be back to something a little different, maybe a little more extensive.”
In the way of attendance prognostications, Moors acknowledged he’s “really not sure what to expect,” considering the date change and ongoing pandemic concerns. Simply, “We’re hoping for a good event,” he said, then adding “the safety of our volunteers, attendees, our vendors is at the forefront.”
Moors asked those attending to exercise some patience: “We know it’s going to be a little different and it’s not going to be the same, but come out and enjoy it, have some fun and take a deep breath, and we’ll all get through this together.”
Meanwhile, festival-goers also will have a chance to land a sneak preview of The Block, downtown Dade City’s newest event and entertainment center located at 14313 Seventh St.
Walk-in tours of the facility will be offered, to let visitors check out the progress so far, with updates on the project’s brewhouse, CrossFit gym, wedding venue and other amenities.
The facility’s entrance corner will have an assortment of tents with a live band, and food and drinks during the Kumquat Festival, too.
While technically separate from the Kumquat Festival, Moors said having coinciding activities at The Block are “a fabulous addition” to festival day.
The Block is a new take on two existing buildings, totaling 21,000 square feet that run together with an outdoor patio with seats, tables and string lights hanging above.
The premises has an extensive history as a car dealership, going back for decades.
The renovated space, conceptualized by local real estate developer Larry Guilford, takes on some influences from the Tampa Heights neighborhood’s popular Armature Works.
The Block will include a wedding and event venue, outside bar, brewery, catering business, space for food trucks, CrossFit gym and more. It is slated to open this spring.
For more information about the Kumquat Festival, visit KumquatFestival.org, or call The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at 352-567-3769.
24th annual Kumquat Festival
When: March 27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Historic downtown Dade City, near Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street
Cost: Free admission, free parking
Details: Festival-goers have a chance to get a taste of Old Florida, in a community known for its hospitality and charm. There will be loads of vendors, places to purchase food and drink, activities for kids, and a car and truck show, among other things.
Published March 24, 2021