Visit the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival January 28: the Family-Friendly Alternative to Gasparilla

By Diane Bedard Posted on January 5, 2023

Have you ever tasted kumquat pie? Kumquat beer? Kumquat wine? Kumquat jelly? How about the little orange fruit that is both sweet and sour at the same time?

Whether your answer is yes or no, you will want to get out to the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival for all the best in kumquat fun, food, and finery. It’s time to bite down and feel that delightful burst of deliciousness that is nearly as joyful as saying the word, “kumqat” is to the silly side of our lives!

The 2023 Kumquat Festival will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Dade City, Florida. Vendors, activities and entertainment will be located around Pasco County’s iconic historic courthouse.  This year’s festival’s headline sponsor is once again AdventHealth.  The Festival is also sponsored by Florida’s Sports Coast among other local and regional organizations, including yours truly,

Last year’s Kumquat Festival featured approximately 300 vendors, as well as food trucks, a classic car show, a kid’s corral play area and more. This year there are over 450 vendors! This exciting return to pre-pandemic vendor numbers promises great shopping, as well as generating a lot of excitement from the local merchants and the City itself.

Festival goers will be able to enjoy the classic favorites like kumquat pie and kumquat beer, of course, but what else can you expect at the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival? 

Historic Downtown Dade City will be transformed into a gigantic marketplace focused on local businesses, hundreds of specialty vendors, dozens of partner sponsors, and the friendly, down home, unique old Florida experience that the Annual Kumquat Festival has come to mean.

Join us and try all the wholesome food available including kumquat pie, kumquat salsa and numerous kumquat recipe specialties. Shop for crafts, enjoy the art displays and visit our “Health and Wellness” section. There will be a children’s activity area, a classic car show, craft Kumquat beer and wine and lots of fun things to do.

Today, NatureCoaster provides a behind the scenes guide to the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival.

Learn all about kumquats and taste one at the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival. Everyone who visits may taste one of the little orange fruits that are both sweet and tart! (Unless they run out, which has never happened before…) Image courtesy of Richard K. Riley.

What is a Kumquat?

The little golden citrus fruit is native to China and was given as a traditional gift on New Year’s Day. Translating to “golden coins,” the kumquat represents prosperity, according to information from TV horticulturist Roger Swain.

The inside is sweet, and the skin is sour. These tasty little citrus gems are eaten whole, so when you bite in a unique sensation greets your taste buds. They are great to cook with, too.

There is great shopping at the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival in Dade City, with 450+ vendors signed up for the family-friendly alternative to Gasparilla. Image courtesy of Richard K. Riley.

Why a Kumquat Festival?

“Once again, Dade City and Eastern Pasco County are preparing to welcome thousands of residents and visitors to our area.  It is our pleasure to produce this quality event, and we invite everyone to enjoy the Festival and come back and visit us again” says John Moors, Executive Director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce.

The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce began holding a festival over 20 years ago in conjunction with Kumquat Growers, Inc. to celebrate the little fruit and all it has contributed to the area. On January 28, 2023, this wholesome, fun, and delicious event features over 450 vendors and sponsors coming together throughout the streets of a historic, charming Southern town to celebrate the community as well as the citrus fruit that is both sweet and sour.

This is the family-friendly alternative to the Gasparilla event in Tampa.

kumquat festival
Local Pageants are held, and the winners are part of the Kumquat Festival’s fun. Image courtesy of Richard Riley.

The Festival Car Show

The Festival Car Show is hosted by Ronnie Setser’s Car & Truck Shows and features an amazing variety of classic cars and trucks in the large parking lot of the downtown Judicial Courthouse. Organized by Trophies, dash plaques and a well-organized show attracts some of the nicest vehicles to be seen in the Southeast U.S. Show runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pops 54 by Mike Groseclose at the Kumquat Festival Car Show. Ronnie Setser’s Car & Truck Shows puts on the annual event, drawing great vehicles from around Florida and the southeast U.S. Image courtesy of Ronnie Setser’s Car & Truck Shows.

Sponsors Make the Festival Happen

Get your tickets to the upcoming Pasco County Fair while you are visiting the Dade City Kumquat Festival. Image by Richard Riley.

AdventHealth Dade City is the headlining sponsor for 2023, joining Florida’s Sports Coast and dozens of business and government partners who come together to make the day memorable, including  

Stop in one of the Friendly Local Shops and Restaurants

Local storefronts are decorated for the festival in kumquat themes, and it can be nice to duck into a shop or restaurant (if you plan to visit one of the restaurants on the day of the Festival, you will likely have to wait for a table and may want to call in advance to see if they take reservations for that day) and rest during the festivities.

Downtown Dade City merchants decorate their show windows in kumquat themes. There are some great shops to visit. Image by Richard Riley.

Dade City is a great town to visit any day and the unique shops and restaurants that make up this vibrant downtown are another wonderful way to spend part of your day. Antiques, toys, books, jewelry, and pet supplies are some of the types of shops you will find.

Restaurants vary from an authentic tea house to sandwich shops, coffee shops, Mexican, Italian, craft beer and fine dining.

Although Dade City is a pet-friendly city, please allow your pets to stay at home during the festival.

Come out for Kumquat pie, one of the crowd favorites. It’s available at the Festival and it is light, creamy and delicious! Image courtesy of Richard K. Riley.

Hundreds of Vendors provide Unique & Kumquat-y Items

Unique arts and crafts are fun to discover in many of the vendor booths lining the streets of this quaint city in eastern Pasco County. Many of these artisans return year after year to sell their wares.

How about kumquat ice cream? Image by Richard Riley.

Delicious foods, as well as many ethnic offerings are available to festivalgoers. There is a myriad of opportunities to sample the tasty little fruit, whether it be as marmalade, cookies, salsa, ice cream, refrigerator pie, or a sip of kumquat beer.

Kumquat Kids Corral

The Kumquat Kids Corral provides entertainment for the youngest visitors.
Image by Digwen from Pixabay

A Kumquat Kids Corral offers families the opportunity to let off some steam with bounce houses, games, face painting and more.

Come a Day early and Enjoy the Kumquat Growers Open House

Kumquat Growers claims to be the largest producers of kumquats and kumquat products. This year they will hold their traditional Open House at the packing house, located at 31647 Gude Rd in St. Joseph from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM on Friday, January 27 (the day before the Festival).

Frank Gude, the patriarch of the Kumquat Growers, is seen here teaching all about kumquats. Image by Richard Riley

There is a talk about the history and origin of the little citrus fruit that packs a punch and how it is used, followed by a packing house tour and a tour of the grove where you can see them in their native habitat.

There is a nice Hampton Inn just south of downtown Dade City, and several hotels in Wesley Chapel along the I-75 and SR 56-SR54 corridor. Camping and RV hookups can be had at the Travelers Rest Resort.

Things to Know about the 2023 Kumquat Festival

A decorated “kumquat tree”. Image by Richard Riley.

Historic downtown Dade City will be transformed into an open-air marketplace featuring local businesses, hundreds of specialty vendors, dozens of partner sponsors, and the friendly authentic old Florida experience that the Annual Kumquat Festival has come to represent.  This event is attended by tens of thousands of visitors each year. 

“We remain the family friendly alternative to Gasparilla,” said John Moors, Executive Director of The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce. 

The 1909 historic Pasco County courthouse is a Dade City icon and is registered on the the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The 1909 historic Pasco County courthouse is in the center of the Festival. Entertainment is held on the courthouse steps, usually by local groups. This gorgeous structure is registered on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Image by Diane Bedard.

Free Admission and Parking

Admission is FREE, city owned public parking downtown is free and the experience of a unique, authentic, and fun-filled festival is unforgettable.

Visitors can look at antique cars, shop for arts and crafts so they can find that perfect item and enjoy delicious food.

Fun Activities to see and do at the festival include arts and crafts, delicious food from local restaurants, food vendors and food trucks, an amazing car & truck show, Farmer’s Market vendors, Kumquat Kids Corral, kumquats, kumquat pie, kumquat beer, kumquat jam, kumquat artwork, kumquat quilts, and the wonderful sponsors.

NatureCoaster will be on-site with area maps and stickers to give away, as well as hats and mugs for sale.

The citrus industry is an important part of Florida’s Nature Coast, and the 26th Annual Kumquat Festival on January 28 from 9am to 5pm in downtown Dade City promises to be one not to miss. For more information, click here.

Featured image from previous Festival by Richard K. Riley.



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