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Annual homage to all things kumquat

Dade City's Kumquat Festival offers lovers of the small, round fruit a crop of treats and entertainment.

Published January 28, 2005

You know it's that time of year when you spot fancy kumquat wreaths and swags on display throughout Dade City's town square. Citrus designs are hand-painted onto windows, too.

That's because many of the local business owners take part by adding a festive touch to their storefronts.

Saturday marks the start of the eighth annual Kumquat Festival. It's a hometown celebration that pays homage to the tiny, round citrus fruit. From kumquat marmalade to candles to the ever-popular kumquat pie, the festival's offerings are a kumquat lover's dream.

"St. Joe has proclaimed itself as the kumquat capital of the world," said organizer Phyllis Smith of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce. "And, when the chamber was looking for a fundraiser, we (decided to) promote what we're known for. And the word kumquat is funny. So that has helped our marketing and promotions."

The event has proved to be a major fundraiser for the chamber of commerce, which sponsors the event. Dozens of local nonprofit organizations, schools and businesses also hawk their wares.

More than 250 booths will line the 10-block stretch between State Road 52 and U.S. 301. Participants can grab crafts items and kumquat-inspired snacks.

And this year, the Kumquat Festival happens to be on the same day as Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival. But organizers are not worried. They say the Kumquat Festival draws an entirely different crowd than the Gasparilla parade.

The Kumquat Festival is more of a mellow, family-oriented event. It features the old-fashioned wagon and pony rides, face painting and crafts. Then there's the vintage car and tractor display and the farmer's market. Bluegrass, country and Christian rock tunes will be heard from three stages.

"It's good old-fashioned country western music," said Smith in a news release. "Toe tapping good music."

A familiar face, Roger Swain, the self-proclaimed "champion of the kumquat," will be on hand, too. Swain, a noted gardener who lives in New Hampshire, will offer tips and samples of kumquats to passers-by. "Those who do not know the kumquat, peel it," said Smith, the chamber's executive director. "I tell them, you've just thrown away the best part. The peel has so much vitamin C in it. It's good for you."

But folks in east Pasco know the kumquat. St. Joe, the town just northwest of Dade City, is said to bring in the largest quantity and best quality of the fruit than anywhere else, Smith said.


The Kumquat Festival is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Dade City. Admission and parking are free. Free Park-and-Ride will be at the Pasco County Fairgrounds. For information, call the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at (352) 567-3769.

Kumquat Festival 5K Race starts at 8 a.m. Saturday at 13920 17th St. in Dade City. Participants can register on the day of the event. The cost is $20 and proceeds will benefit the Guardian Ad Litem Program. Call (352) 588-2128 or (727) 789-1627.


10 a.m.: Step'N Time

10:30 a.m.: Brooksville Dance Academy

10:30 a.m.: Soloist, Ashley Shannon

10:45 a.m.-4 p.m.: The Society for the Preservation of Early Country and Western Music

11 a.m.: Peggy's Dance Place

11:30 a.m.: Mary Ann's School of Dance

11:30 a.m.: Shattered Silence

Noon: Bluegrass artist, Scott Rowell and the Foothills Band

Noon-2 p.m.: Blackwood Studios

12:30 p.m.: Show Stoppers

1 p.m.: Rhythm N' Motion

1:30 p.m.: Song and Dance

2:45 p.m.: Kayla Pate

3 p.m.: Contempo School of Dance

[Last modified January 28, 2005, 00:21:17]

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