Dunedin Orange Festival bears fruit at Edgewater Park

Published July 6, 2012


Now that we've celebrated the red, white and blue, it's time to pay tribute to the orange.

Saturday's third annual Dunedin Orange Festival celebrates the community's legacy of orange groves and citrus packing. On tap: the coronation of a queen, a Mojo Cook-Off, children's games and activities, a silent auction of decorated bonnets and bushels of entertainment.

This year, the festival has moved from Pioneer Park to the waterfront Edgewater Park. "It will be shadier and cooler and, with its beautiful water views, will look more like a small hometown event," said Marsha Goins, co-chair of the event.

The festival, presented by the city, the Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Dunedin Historical Museum, runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit the museum and the chamber's Cultural and Educational Foundation.

Bring youngsters ages 2 to 10 for a 9:30 a.m. scavenger hunt for oranges. Two pieces of the fruit will be specially marked; finders will each receive a $20 gift certificate for Toys "R" Us.

A fun zone for children, sponsored by the Dunedin Waterside Rotary Club, will feature old-fashioned games and activities for children. The cost of admission is $3 per child.

All ages will enjoy the "Chill Zone" where, for a $5 entry fee, cool foods and refreshments await.

And what would an orange jubilee be without the juice? Indian River Select, a Stuart-based juice company, will have free samples. Orange cotton candy and orange snow cones will be for sale.

Sea Sea Riders will be defending its title during the Mojo Cook-Off, which runs from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. For a $10 ticket, festivalgoers can sample savory mojo dishes from at least seven restaurants, then vote for their favorite.

The winner will be announced at 3 p.m. and will receive "the coveted pig award," a glammed-up plastic porker that they can proudly display in their establishment.

Musical performances take place all day long under the gazebo and feature the city's pipe and drum band, the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church gospel choir and other entertainers.

The Miss Dunedin Orange Queen will be crowned at noon; Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers and other community figures will brave the dunk tank from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

A bevy of bonnets decorated by area merchants will be up for auction. They will be displayed on a silent auction table at the festival and may be previewed today at the Enchanted Branch, 318 Main St.

The winner of the QR code scavenger hunt, who will receive an Apple iPad 2, will be announced at 3 p.m. During the high-tech hunt, which began in June and ends today at 1 p.m., scavengers used smartphones to find clues to the locations of 32 orange murals painted by artist Steve Spathelf.

It was the shenanigans of Spathelf and Goins that ultimately led to the creation of the Orange Festival. In 2009, the two covertly painted five oranges on the walls of downtown Dunedin buildings in the middle of the night.

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"Steve had been fascinated by vintage fruit labels for years," Goins said. "He was always saying Dunedin has a Scottish heritage, but it also has an orange heritage."

The resulting buzz from the mystery murals gave root to an initiative to celebrate the city's citrus connection. Spathelf has continued to paint oranges in the style of vintage fruit crate labels around Dunedin. Thus far, he has created 163.

"It would be neat if Dunedin was known as the fruit crate label city," he said. "I won't rest until they're plastered all over town."

Goins encourages everyone to make it a Dunedin day.

"They can come to the festival, shop the Green Market in Pioneer Park, visit the restaurants and shops, then attend a Dunedin Blue Jays game at 6:30 p.m. when they play the Tampa Yankees."

Correspondent Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at