Decades ago, Dunedin was blanketed with orange groves that perfumed the air. "By the early 1900s, over half of Dunedin was dedicated to citrus; most of it was oranges," said Vinnie Luisi, executive director of the Dunedin Historical Museum. The town celebrated with orange festivals and parades and the coronation of pretty queens.
On Saturday, those yesteryear revelries return with the second annual Dunedin Orange Festival, held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the downtown area.
Presented by the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association, the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, and the Dunedin Historical Museum, the juice-themed jubilee is a swirl of summertime fun, games, stage entertainment, mojo tastes and more.
Proceeds benefit the Dunedin Historical Society and the Dunedin Chamber Cultural and Education Foundation.
"This is a family-friendly event designed to complement the Fourth of July weekend festivities," said event co-chair Marsha Goins.
"On Saturday, people can shop downtown, eat downtown, enjoy the festival and Green Market (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Pioneer Park) and then at 6 p.m., attend a Dunedin Blue Jays game with fireworks."
At 10 a.m., Grand Marshal Ted Napp, along with the new Miss Dunedin Orange Queen (crowned moments earlier), will lead the Orange Stroll-About leaving from Pioneer Park. Mayor Dave Eggers, commissioners, the Blue Jays mascot, the New World Celts and scouts are among those who plan to participate in the half-mile walk.
"Wear orange and bring wagons, strollers, dogs, wheelchairs," Goins said. "Everyone is invited to this small hometown parade."
Bring some pocket change, too.
Children will likely want to enter the Fun Zone in the Ocean Optics parking lot where they can partake in games like putt-putt, ring toss and more. "Everyone wins some kind of prize," Goins said.
Tickets are $3 per child or $5 for two.
The mayor and others will brave a dunk tank from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
Indian River Select, a Stuart-based juice company, will supply free orange juice samples during the festival. Nostalgic favorites like cotton candy, orange Creamsicles and Push-Up pops will be for sale. Many local restaurants will serve up special orange-themed food and drinks.
A Mojo Cook-Off runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Dunedin Historical Museum. For $10 participants can sample a variety of mojo-flavored creations from area restaurants and vote for their favorite.
"The winner gets the coveted pig award," said co-chair Patti Coleman. "We are really glamming it (the pig) up with nail polish, false eyelashes, glitter and feathers — that kind of thing."
The winner of the QR code scavenger hunt (held June 11-25) will be announced at 3 p.m. More than 100 people entered the high-tech hunt and used smart phones to detect clues for 32 locations of orange murals painted by artist Steve Spathelf.
Inspired by vintage fruit crate labels, Spathelf began adorning the sides of buildings in 2009. Now, with the number of his murals totaling over 100, organizers were inspired to bring the orange festivals back.
Don't forget to stop by the museum and learn more about the bygone citrus industry in Dunedin.
"The Skinner, Douglas, Emerson and McClung families were big in the citrus industry with the Skinner plant perfecting 'orange concentrate' during World War II," Luisi said. "We sent millions of gallons of concentrate to England as part of the war effort."
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