Caution. Reading this post may cause tummy rumblings and salivating because here are some fabulous annual Florida foodie festivals.
Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival
Have a hopping good time during the world’s largest frog leg festival in the Frog Leg Capital of the World during the annual Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, typically in January. More than 7,000 pounds of frog legs and 2,000 pounds of gator tail is traditionally served up along with family-friendly fun with carnival rides, games, and craft booths. Admission is free however there is a fee for the dinners and carnival rides. (22 South Orange St, Fellsmere, Fla. 32948; Tel: (772) 571-0250; www.froglegfestival.com)
Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle
Florida may be one of the only states that consumes its state tree. If you have never tasted swamp cabbage, which is from the heart of the cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), the Swamp Cabbage Festival in LaBelle in February is the perfect opportunity to do so. In addition to swamp cabbage, enjoy the LaBelle Rotary Club’s world-famous armadillo races, the Swamp Cabbage Parade, a country western dance, Swamp Stomp 5K, a fishing tournament, the Swamp Cabbage Festival Ranch Rodeo presented by Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association, and maybe some alligator wrestling (as a spectator). Admission is free to the festival but an admission fee is collected for specific events, food, and beverages. (Barron Park, 1559 De Soto Ave, LaBelle, Fla. 33935 www.labelleswampcabbagefestival.org)
Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City
A “berry” good time is guaranteed during the March Florida Strawberry Festival which dates to 1930. That was when festivals brought communities together during their harvests. Plant City is the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World and the luscious berries are in ripe for picking in February and March. This is one of the top festivals in the country and you can enjoy carnival rides, games, attractions, entertainment, and headliner performers. Past performers include Alabama, Willie Nelson & Family and STYX.
Participate in one of their contests like strawberry stemming, strawberry spaghetti eating, or strawberry shortcake eating. Of course, taste strawberry-themed food including the world-famous strawberry shortcake, strawberry sandwiches, and strawberry cream puffs. An admission is charged. (303 North Lemon St., Plant City, Fla. 33563; Tel: (813) 752-9194; www.flstrawberryfestival.com)
Key Lime Festival in Key West
Indulge in America’s favorite citrus celebration during the July Key Lime Festival in Key West, the birthplace of the Florida state pie. The sweet and tart dessert dates to the late 1800s and the key ingredients are key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and never green food coloring. This multi-day festival reflects Key West’s fun, eclectic, and colorful personality with a host of events including the World Key Lime Pie Eating Contest, key lime scavenger hunt with clues leading participants through the island’s iconic landmarks, and key lime pie drop from the Key West Lighthouse. Events are held throughout the Conch Republic and admission fees vary. (Various Key West locations. www.keylimefestival.com)
MangoMania in Cape Coral
It wasn’t until I attended MangoMania, Pine Island’s Tropical Fruit Fair, a few years ago that I realized I had been cutting up mangoes in wrong. During this delicious July celebration of Pine Island’s famous mangoes and other tropical fruits, taste about 20 different kinds of sweet, juicy mangoes and watch how to cut a mango the easy way. Vendors sell mango-flavored items and it varies each year and may include hot sauce, fish tacos with fresh mango salsa, or refreshing ice cream.
There are activities for the whole family including mango recipe contests, MangoMania hat decorating followed by the hat parade, mango eating contest, entertainment, educational talks, and see the world’s largest mango. An admission fee is collected. (German-American Social Club, 2101 Pine Island Rd., Cape Coral, Fla. 33991; Tel: (239) 283-0888; www.mangomaniafl.net)
Grape Stomp at Henscratch Farms Winery & Vineyard in Lake Placid
You’ll have a smashing good time in August when you’re squishing grapes between your toes during the annual Grape Stomp at Henscratch Farms Winery & Vineyard in Lake Placid. The vineyard grows and harvests muscadine and scuppernong grapes. The popular, one-day event includes, “Do the Lucy” (in reference to the episode of I Love Lucy when Lucille Ball’s character stomped grapes with her bare feet), music, wine tasting, grapes to munch on, and more family fun. Be sure to visit the chickens. Get a photo of you stomping grapes and use it as your custom wine label for a bottle of grape-stomped wine available in November. An admission fee is collected. (980 Henscratch Rd., Lake Placid, Fla. 33852; Tel: (863) 699-2060; www.henscratchfarms.com)