Maybe you’ve never heard of a kumquat.
Or, perhaps you have — but have never tasted one.
It’s possible, too, that you’ve never visited Dade City — the county seat of Pasco County, with a stately historic courthouse in its town square and quaint shops lining its downtown streets.
An event coming up on Jan. 29 — the 25th annual Kumquat Festival — could change all that.
The festival, which is the flagship event for The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, offers a chance for the East Pasco community to share its old-fashioned Southern charm, while also showing off its fair city.
The festival celebrates the kumquat — a fruit grown in nearby St. Joe, which is known as the Kumquat Festival of the World.
Those wanting to know more about the tiny, tart fruit — sometimes called the ‘little gold gem of the citrus family’ — can visit the “Kumquat Growers” at the Wells Fargo parking lot. Besides increasing their knowledge about kumquats, they can purchase some to take home, too.
“They’ll be lots of food and beverage opportunities, including those that are in our brick-and-mortar restaurants,” said John Moors, executive director of the Dade City Chamber.
“There will be entertainment around town in different locations, provided by the restaurants and bars, and so on,” he added.
Moors also noted that downtown is entirely wet-zoned, meaning people can enjoy alcoholic beverages while strolling through the district.
They’ll be able to “have a glass of wine or a kumquat beer, and enjoy the arts and the crafts, and the whole experience,” Moors said.
Parking will be available in public and private lots, throughout downtown, he said.
He also expects plenty of kumquats and kumquat products available for purchase.
The annual event is a testimony to Dade City’s community spirit, Moors said.
“The community pulls together to make this happen. It’s just an absolute, wonderful 25 years of community support. We couldn’t do it without all of the volunteers,” he added.
When one festival ends, planning for the next one begins.
Last year, the event took place in March because of concerns about the pandemic.
But it turned out that the weather was a bit too warm, plus there was a caterpillar invasion, so this year the festival is being held at its normal time, in January.
“What we have done over the past couple of years, because of the (COVID-19) conditions that we now face, is that we have reduced somewhat, the size of the festival,” Moors said.
The idea is to ensure that everybody is comfortable and as safe as possible, he said.
At one point, there were more than 400 vendors; this year, it’s between 275 and 300.
“The upside of that, though, is that we have really focused on quality vendors,” Moors said, mentioning vendors offer unique items, as well as high-caliber arts and crafts.
The Kumquat Festival is designed to appeal to people of all ages.
There’s a Kid’s Corral for the youngsters. There are plenty of options for those who enjoy shopping — either at the temporary vendors, or the downtown shops.
Festival-goers who are hungry can choose from local restaurants, or from an array of food trucks.
Quilt enthusiasts can check out a show near the fountain at the historic courthouse, and there’s also a car and truck show in the parking lot of the Robert D. Sumner Judicial Courthouse.
And, there will be a farmer’s market, too.
Organizers encourage those visiting to stay well-hydrated and to take a break, if they’re feeling tired.
Several picnic tables will be set up, so people can relax. Portable toilets and hand-sanitizing stations also will be situated throughout the festival area.
While many vendors take credit cards, there are many that do not. The festival’s Live Event Map indicates the location of available ATMs.
While the chamber coordinates the event, “our volunteers take off and run the whole thing,” Moors said.
“The first group that morning shows up about 4:30, to get the vendors placed,” he said. “And then there’s people (volunteers) all day long.”
25th Annual Kumquat Festival
When: Jan 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Downtown Dade City
Cost: Free admission; parking available in public and private lots in downtown
Details: Visitors can enjoy a slice of kumquat pie, drink a glass of kumquat beer and take home some kumquats or a variety of goodies celebrating the tiny orange-colored fruit.
Info: DadeCityChamber.org, or contact The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at 352-567-3769 or
Directions to Dade City
- From Interstate 75, go east on State Road 52 toward downtown Dade City
- From U.S. Highway 301, go north or south on U.S. 301 and follow toward downtown Dade City
On Festival Day, Jan. 29, there will be an information booth at the intersection of Seventh Street and Meridian Avenue. Also, sponsors and vendors can be found on the Live Event Map, at KumquatFestival.org. It also lists food and restroom locations.
Published January 26, 2022