Tart Star Of Kumquat Festival Having A Good Year

Dade City's annual celebration shows off its most famous fruit.

Organizers expect big crowds at this year’s Kumquat Festival. The annual celebration of the tiny, tangerine-colored fruit was moved from its normal January time slot this year because of COVID, and will be held on March 27th in Dade City.

Grower Greg Gude says that this year’s kumquat crop is one of the sweetest he’s seen in years. He made his comments at a press conference put on by Pasco County’s tourism bureau, where some of the festival’s kumquat-themed foods were on display. Some of the vendors that will be at the festival include For Pedro’s Sake Candied JalapeƱos and Kumquats; kumquat pound cakes and syrup from “Tracy Cakes”; candied kumquats from Benedetto’s; and artisanal kumquat-laced chocolates from Perk’s Cafe in Dade City. Also for sale will be the top-selling “Aunt Rosemary’s Kumquat Pie,” which is a crowd favorite along with always-popular kumquat marmalade.

“Aunt Rosemary’s Kumquat Pie” is a festival favorite (Courtesy Florida’s Sports Coast)

John Moors of the Dade City Chamber of Commerce says the festival is expected to attract 30,000 people, a big economic boon for the town of 7,000. He says that health precautions will be in place, such as masks, hand sanitizer, and more space between booths.

The cold-hardy kumquat is the smallest of the citrus fruit. It’s native to southeast China but has found a home in Florida from Key West to the panhandle, and it differs from other citrus in that the peel is sweet and edible, so the whole fruit can be eaten. This year’s Kumquat Festival occurs as kumquat season is winding down; the season typically lasts from October through March. And like all citrus, kumquats are high in Vitamin C.

Did You Know?

The name kumquat comes from the Chinese words “gam,” meaning gold, and “gwat,” a term for tangerines!