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Hundreds of Loquat lovers attend the Sixth Annual Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on April 8, 2019

The annual Florida Loquat Festival was held in Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey in late March.  The event also included the annual Loquat Literary Festival. Visitors from all over Tampa Bay and beyond stopped by to learn more about the oval-shaped, peach-hued fruit.

Hundreds of Loquat lovers attend the Sixth Annual Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey

The event featured fresh fruit, preserves, over 200 trees, pastries, including loquat cookies, loquat tea, festival t-shirts, and loquat art by Andrea Hiotis.  Kelly Hackman of White Heron Tea & Gifts in downtown New Port Richey provided samples of her award-winning loquat tea, while in downtown her husband, Bryan, served customers his first-time ever, loquat beer at the Cottee River Craft Brewery. This event is the only Loquat Festival in the United States and puts the City of New Port Richey on the map.

This is a learning and sharing event to help expand the 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 cook with it, and medicinal qualities of its leaves and fruit.  The festival attracted 800 people, with visitors coming from all over Florida, various southern states, and some from as far away as Indiana and Illinois.

“To the best of our knowledge, the Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey, Florida is the only loquat festival in the United States of America. There are loquat festivals in other parts of the world, including China and Japan, but so far we’ve not learned of any others in the USA” said Dell deChant, one of the event’s organizers.  “This year we brought in more vendors and many of them including the nursery sold out,” he added.

The Loquat Literary Festival also attracted a bumper crop of new poets who were happy to read their loquat-centric creations in public for prizes and recognition. Later this year, all poems from this year’s event will be printed in a poetry chapbook and sold at future functions. Winners of this year’s contest are First Place – Joey Hedger, Second Place-R. Lynn, and Third Place – Victoria Reed
with an Honorable Mention presented to Mary Bucklin

Major Sponsor of this event was the Suncoast Credit Union. Supporters included: Cultural Arts Committee of New Port Richey, Hook Law Group, S.I. Electric, Rotary Club of New Port Richey.  Also supporting the event were  Maharajh Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe, The Central, Wright’s Natural Market, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, Creative Institute of Dental Arts, Rose’s Bistro Off Main, NewsPortRichey, NPR FarmNet, Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey, East Madison Growers Club, Grand Gardens, New Port Richey Public Library, and Parks & Recreation Department of the City of New Port Richey.

EVENT HOSTS

Friendship Farms & Fare affirms and advances agrarian ideals to reestablish a sustainable culture
http://www.fffsite.org/

Ecology Florida advances the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world
http://www.ecologyflorida.org/

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