In the beginning, there was the kumquat.
It’s a tiny fruit, with a slightly sweet and tangy, tangy taste.
And, it’s the centerpiece of an annual tradition that often introduces visitors to Dade City’s Old-Florida charm.
The festival that pays homage to the diminutive orange fruit began two decades ago, when Phyllis Smith, Roxanne Barthle and Carlene Ellberg were looking for a way to help inject new life into downtown Dade City. They put their heads together and decided to have a festival to honor the kumquat.
The inaugural festival was on the lawn of the historic Pasco County Courthouse. It included a few vendors, some food and some kumquat growers, from nearby St. Joseph, the Kumquat Capital of the World.
Described as the “little gold gem of the citrus industry” by kumquat promoters, the fruit can be found in virtually every form at the annual festival.
While the exact offerings change from year to year, there’s typically kumquat cookies and kumquat smoothies. Kumquat marmalade and kumquat salsa. Kumquat pie and kumquat all kinds of other stuff.
This year, more than 425 vendors and 40 sponsors are taking part in the festival organized by The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, said John Moors, the chamber’s executive director.
The festival is slated for Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If you’ve been there before, you’ll know the basics. Admission is free. Parking is free. Entertainment is free. And, there are two satellite parking lots, with free shuttles, Moors said.
But, even if you’ve been there before, the experience won’t be the same, Moors said. There are always new vendors joining the lineup, and every year organizers aim to make the experience better than it was was before, he said.
Besides food trucks and other food vendors, local restaurants are open, too.
There is live entertainment, an antique car and truck show, a quilt challenge, arts and crafts, a health and wellness area, a farmer’s market, and activities for the kids.
There’s also plenty of shopping, with offerings from festival vendors and at local stores.
Those who would enjoy learning more about kumquats are welcome to attend grove and packing house tours offered by the Kumquat Growers on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27.
For times and more information, visit KumquatGrowers.com.
For more information about the festival, call the chamber office at (352) 567-3769.
Where: Dade City’s historic downtown core
When: Jan. 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How much: Admission and parking are free
Details: Live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts, car and truck show, children’s activities, fine arts, health and wellness area, quilt challenge, kumquat pie and products.
For more information, visit KumquatFestival.org or DadeCityChamber.org, or call The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at (352) 567-3769.
Published January 25, 2017