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Kumquat Festival's a Super Bowl tantalizer

Pirate performers, from left, Erin Sparkman, Ronni McAulay, Diana Bacheller, John Bacheller and George Western, took part in January’s Kumquat Festival in Dade City.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Pirate performers, from left, Erin Sparkman, Ronni McAulay, Diana Bacheller, John Bacheller and George Western, took part in January’s Kumquat Festival in Dade City.

DADE CITY — Dade City got a shoutout from the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee. The city's annual Kumquat Festival was listed on the committee's Super Bowl XLIII calendar of events.

Nestled among a Celine Dion concert, a Lightning game and the yearly Gasparilla pirate invasion, the Kumquat Festival is the only Pasco event mentioned.

The county doesn't even appear on the Web site's area maps.

"A lot of people will go to that site to find out what there is to do in the area," said Nita Beckwith, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the festival. "This is wonderful to give people the opportunity to find out what a kumquat is."

The celebration of the peculiar yellow fruit is held every year on the last Saturday in January. The fact that the festival falls on the day before the Super Bowl is a coincidence, Beckwith said.

She has sent out numerous kumquat announcements, including one forwarded about a month ago to the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee, the nonprofit group that serves as a liaison for the National Football League.

The committee markets its Web site, www.tampabaysuperbowl.com, to the more than 100,000 visitors expected to descend upon the Bay area.

They've tried to keep the site's calendar listings diverse.

"When people typically think of Super Bowl, they think of football events," said Krista Soroka, the committee's director of special events.

"The Kumquat Festival would give those visitors a local taste."

Having the two events fall on the same weekend is actually a bummer to Dade City's Hampton Inn, the only chain hotel in the area.

Almost half of the hotel's 64 rooms are booked at the weekend's $189 rate, which is about $60 higher than normal.

Manager T.J. Howard worries the higher rates may turn away people interested in that weekend's offerings of fruit, not football.

"They don't want to pay Super Bowl prices for the Kumquat Festival," she said.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Kumquat Festival's a Super Bowl tantalizer 11/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 22, 2008 10:22pm]
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