New Port Richey, FL (April 14, 2015) – The annual Florida Loquat Festival took place on April 4 at the Market Off Main in New Port Richey. Hosted by Ecology Florida, Friendship Farms & Fare, and the Market Off Main, organizers discovered that they may be the only group actually presenting an annual loquat festival in the state. From what their research team has discovered, so far, it appears theirs could be the only loquat festival in the entire nation.
Of course, loquats can grow anywhere in the state, and the hope is that other locales will have their own festivals in the future. “For now, however, we are the only venue to learn about and celebrate this wonderful spring fruit,” said event organizer Dell deChant with Ecology Florida.
In the weeks prior to the event, deChant and volunteers with Black Cat Growers, East Madison Growers, Nature Coast Real Food Project, and Friendship Farms & Fare harvested nearly 1,000 pounds of loquats. Most of the fruit was found in the East Madison neighborhood of New Port Richey. The primary use of this harvest was for jellies, jams, and compotes, prepared by in the kitchens of Black Cat Growers. “We sincerely appreciated the many residents who offered the bounty of their trees to the festival” noted deChant.
The festival was also a learning and sharing event to expand knowledge and appreciation of the loquat tree and its fruit. There were presentations on the cultivation of loquat trees, how to eat its fruit, how to can it, and recipes using loquats were provided to attendees. Also featured was tasting samples, trees for sale and a talk on the cultural context of this often overlooked Florida fruit-bearing tree.
This year’s Florida Loquat Festival also featured a program of creative literary works. The literary event used an open mic format for readings of poetry and short prose taking the loquat as subject or central image. April is also National Poetry Month. More than 15 people read their poetry and verse at the event, with the poems to be published through the support of the New Port Richey Public Library.