Dade City has had "kumquat fever" for about a month as the 16th annual Kumquat Festival approaches Saturday. John Moors, Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce executive director, says that's all part of the plan.
People sometimes ask Moors why the festival is not expanded to two days. He has a ready answer:
"It's run by a team of wonderful dedicated volunteers," he said. "You can only ask your volunteers to do so much. There are state road closures involved and all sort of things. So instead of having a two-day festival, we stretch the events to give us more impact. What we've got is we've taken a one-day festival and we've literally stretched it over the whole month, which only increases the economic impact for Dade City, the awareness of the event and the importance of the event."
Among the events leading up to the festival are the Kumquat Growers Open House, Kumquat Recipe Contest, the Miss & Mr. Kumquat Festival Pageant, the Relay for Life 5K and No K Race and the Kumquat Festival Window Decorating Contest. Two of those events were in full swing Thursday.
At the Kumquat Growers Open House, everyone was busy preparing meiwa and nagami kumquats for sample and sale.
"They'll send out at least a 120 bushel of each. If they run out they can call us back here at the packing house, we'll wash it up, get it ready for when the truck gets back out here, load them up and haul butt back to the festival," said packing house foreman Paul Notz with a grin.
Tours and festivities will continue today from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m. at the Kumquat Growers, 31647 Gude Road, Dade City. Celebrity kumquat promoter Roger Swain who in past years gave talks at the open house was not able to make it to the festival this year.
Judges for the festival's window decorating contest judged the entries Thursday afternoon.
Sugarcreek Too in downtown Dade City was one entrant in the contest. Carole Parks, a co-owner, said the window decorating contest helps her get ready for the festival.
"It gets me in the spirit and the anticipation of the kumquat festival," she said. "It's cold and chilly and it's like spring is coming."
Parks said that the chamber of commerce providing kumquats for the decorating is a big plus.
"With the chamber giving us the kumquats and everything it's a lot of fun," she said.
"I put them around the store and I give them to customers. Every year I let the customers taste them and take some home and they love that. A lot of them come from areas where they've never had a kumquat," she added.
More then 40,000 are expected for the festival. "There will be great weather," Moors predicted. "We'll have a great crowd and it will bring a pile of money into Dade City.
"We've got 425 fantastic vendors — arts, crafts, fine arts, a kid's area, our health and wellness section this year. It's going to be a super day," Moors added.
The festival will run from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Dade City. For information, call the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at (352) 567.3769 or visit kumquatfestival.org.