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Don’t Miss America’s only Loquat Festival March 23

By Diane Bedard Posted on March 7, 2019

The sixth annual Florida Loquat Festival will be held Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Frances Avenue Park (6156 Louisiana Avenue, 34653) in New Port Richey, hosted by Ecology Florida and Friendship Farms & Fare, with the support of the City of New Port Richey.

The Florida Loquat festival is a learning and sharing event to expand knowledge and appreciation of the loquat tree and its fruit. There will be presentations on the cultivation of loquat trees, how to eat its fruit, how to can it and cook with it, including recipes using loquats. It is the only festival in the U.S. celebrating this versatile fruit.

Loquat growers and those involved in the loquat food-production industry are alerted to the potential for a large harvest this year, which suggests a particularly bountiful festival for 2019.

Try and Buy Delicious Loquat Products

There will be loquat jellies and jams, as well as many loquat fruits available at the 2019 Loquat Festival. Festival promoters are excited with the number of folks who have come forward to prepare and sell preserves, with more canners and makers than ever before.

There will be loquat jellies and jams, as well as many loquat fruits available at the 2019 Loquat Festival.

Cristi Williams’ awarding Jovita Treats will be with us. Cristi’s Apple Butter received the blue ribbon at this year’s Florida State Fair. Jovita Treats has also received first place awards at the Plant City Strawberry Festival and the Pasco County Fair. Cristi tells us that Jovita Treats will have distinctive loquat delicacy at this year’s Loquat Festival.

Learn what a Loquat is and How to Grow and Prepare Loquats

An important part of the loquat festival is education. Presentations include instructions on growing and cultivation of loquat trees, how to eat its fruit, recipes based on loquats, the role of the loquat in sustainable farming and permaculture gardening, and the cultural context of this wonderful tree.

Pete Kanaris, proprietor of Green Dreams Nursery, will address the role of fruit trees in a sustainable, comprehensive food system on residential properties at the Festival.

Get your very own Loquat Tree at the Festival

Visitors at the Florida Loquat Festival in New Port Richey have several varieties of loquat
trees to choose from brought in by certified nurseries.

A major feature of the festival is the trees, from seedlings and saplings to large trees. Green Dreams, is a major force in the sustainable food and culture movement, offering a wide assortment of organic fruit trees suitable for Florida growing.

Green Dreams has been the festival’s featured nursery for several years, and this year it will offer its widest selection yet of high-quality named varieties.  We expect about 150 trees, with nearly 120 coming from Green Dreams. These will include some of each of these varieties: Premier, Golden Nugget, Bradenton, Christmas Oliver, Champaign, Sherry, and Yehuda.

Most of the grafted trees from GreenDreams have fruit on them this year.  3-gallon trees are 3-4 feet tall and slim (for $45). 7-gallon trees are 4-6 feet tall and full (for $65). GreenDreams will also have seedlings (for $5). Other nurseries will have smaller trees for lower prices, including seedlings for $5. For the best selection of the trees, please come early.

New Loquat Products for the 2019 Festival

Locally made loquat tea from White Heron Tea and Gifts is expected to debut at this year’s Loquat Festival.  Long a staple in Asia, the downtown New Port Richey tea company has developed a delicious local version of this international classic.  Kelly Hackman, the proprietor of the White Heron has entered the newly minted loquat tea in an international tea competition.

spooky_kid / Pixabay

The Cotee River Brewing Company in downtown New Port Richey will be featuring Loquat Beer. Bryan Hackman, the proprietor, is working with local growers to produce this one-of-a-kind brew.  While beer is not served at the festival due to City restrictions, there will be plenty available just a few blocks away at this delightful brewpub.

Andrea Hiotis’ Loquat Fruit and Flowers with Butterfly artwork.

Besides beverages, new this year will be the first-ever Loquat Art Show. The show features local artist, Andrea Hiotis.  Andrea will have a wide selection of paintings and note cards featuring loquats.

The Fifth Annual Loquat Literary Festival

The Florida Loquat Festival seeks one-page poetry or prose submissions for a reading held at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey, Florida on March 23, 2019. All styles and forms are welcomed as long as loquats are the subject or central image.

Loquat Festival Literary & Poetry Reading is held at each festival and will be featured at the 2019 event. Educational presentations and tree sales are part of the festivities. Image courtesy of Jon Tietz

Submissions are open to all writers and not restricted to professional poets. Authors are invited to read at the event in beautiful Frances Avenue Park and will be published in the annual chapbook, Leaves of Loquat. Any time remaining after the reading will be open to the public for an open mic with all ages and levels of experience welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Writers may submit up to three poems in a single document. Include brief bio sharing your writing experience/ publications, if any, to [email protected]. You may also mail submissions to Friendship Farms & Fare, PO Box 596, New Port Richey, FL 34655-0596. Deadline for submissions is March 10, 2019.

Accepted submissions will be notified upon acceptance.

There will be prize packages awarded to first ($100), second ($50), and third place ($25).  Awards include publication in Leaves of Loquat.

About the Florida Loquat Festival

“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.

The festival includes lectures on growing, harvesting, and preparing loquats.  Known and unknown specialists will present on the ways and wonders of our celebrated fruit. Expect presentations on a wide variety of loquat products: making loquat preserves, medicinal uses of loquats, creating loquat tea (along with samples), the place of loquats in a food-producing yard, loquat festivals from around the world, and others.

What to Expect at the Loquat Festival

Loquats are small and round or oblong on the tree. The fruit has a similar taste and flavor as that of apples; tart, and sweet with a pleasant aroma. However, they are soft and juicy in texture instead of crispy as in apples. Loquat leaves are employed in traditional medicines, and as herbal tea in many parts of the world. gi8mail / Pixabay

The festival opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m. at Frances Avenue Park in New Port Richey (6156 Louisiana Ave., 34653). The event program begins at 10 a.m., which includes a poetry reading with the focus on the loquat fruit at 1 p.m.

The festival will have preserves, seeds, recipes, brochures, lectures, poetry, products, art, and fresh fruit.

If you would like to volunteer to assist in setting up the event or during the day of the festival, please let us know as soon as possible.  Volunteers are also sought to assist with harvesting the fruit – especially the week before the event.  Fruiting is very heavy right on time this year, which means we can use all the help we can get.

The loquat festival also welcomes folks who will donate the harvest of their trees.

For more information, please contact Marilynn deChant by clicking here.

Loquat Festival Sponsors and Supporters

Loquat trees will be available for purchase from seedlings to 30-gallon producing sizes.

Suncoast Credit Union has long been an important supporter and contributor to the Florida Loquat Festival.  For this year’s festival, Suncoast Credit Union has made an especially generous contribution to the festival – becoming the first Major Sponsor of the event.

Besides Suncoast Credit Union, the festival is thankful for these committed supporters for 2019: The Cultural Affairs Committee of New Port Richey, The Hook Law Group, S.I. Electric, The Rotary Club of New Port Richey, Maharajh Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe, The Central, Wright’s Natural Market, West Pasco Habitat for Humanity, Creative Institute of Dental Arts, Rose’s Bistro Off Main, and News Port Richey.

Event hosts include Friendship Farms & Fare, which affirms and advances agrarian ideals to reestablish a sustainable culture, and Ecology Florida, whose mission is to advance the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world

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