We had the opportunity to visit Dade City just in time for their Kumquat Festival this past January. There literally were hundreds of vendors and thousands of people packing the streets of this tiny burg for this annual event. City blocks were sealed off for the double rows of 10×10 pop-up tents featuring art, jewelry, handmade soaps, plants and curios of all kinds.
Many businesses took the opportunity to sell their services as well. There were insurance companies, financial institutions, even the local hospital was handing out complimentary carry bags for shoppers.
When it came to the festivities, however, there was no Kumquat Queen, nobody threw out the first Kumquat, there was no “guess-how many-kumqats-in-the-jar,” kumquat eating or kumquat throwing contests. In fact, when we had driven downtown the day before, there were not any signs and actually no indication that there was even to be a festival.
“It’s all done on social media now. People figure it out for themselves” said a burly man at the Information Booth as he gestured to the throng walking past.
Local Businesses to the Rescue
Fortunately, the local merchants picked up the slack in the kumquat department.
We were able to get kumquat scones at the Perks Cafe. Down the way at the Tropical Wine Shop we had a tasting of some kumquat wine.
Later, at lunch we had a double-header, with both kumquat pie and a kumquat cookie.
Although there were a couple of places you could purchase actual, live kumquat trees the only real kumquats we found were consumption were at the Sugar Shack Shop. A great little gift shop that also offered kumquat marmalade and some kumquat salsa – along with a great selection of interesting gift items and home decor.
We perused some of the pop-ups and out of town displays but increasingly we were drawn to the shops themselves. Arts Eclectic for instance, was a framing shop that had a great display of already mounted pictures and pieces of art. The Cottage Shop had wonderful antiques while the European Emporium had a wide selection of consumer goods from England. Scotland, France, Germany, Italy and the continent.
The Lunch Challenge
Not wishing to eat from a food truck, we began to look at restaurant offerings. Our first enticement was The Williams Fashion Center & Lunch on Limoges – but they had been booked for weeks. There also was The Angel Tea Room & Heavenly Treasures. They had set up a “Kumquat High Tea Experience.” Sadly it featured no kumquat tea – despite a fine collection of upscale tea offerings in the shop.
We ended up at A Matter of Taste. A surprisingly wonderful restaurant in the heart of Dade City. Due to the crush of the festival they had gone to a limited menu.
“We are just serving our top sellers today…”– Harried Hostes
It was easy to see why they were the top sellers. I had a Gobbler – a giant turkey and swiss with cranberry. Mrs Funmeister had the California Chicken Salad on Croissants. We topped it off with kumqat pie and a huge kumquat cookie.
Sadly, we did not get to see the car show, nor did we get any kumquat ice cream. However, we did enjoy some of the entertainers that were strategically posted around the city and scored some fabulous kumquat honey.
All in all, it was a good time but we would recommend you do as much as research as possible before you go.