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Three January Food Festivals for Forgetting Your New Year's Resolutions

January 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM | by | ()

January is kind of a slow and sleepy month, but even if it’s not quite harvest time that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of foods to celebrate. There’s spicy stuff, sweet stuff, and everything in between...so here’s our picks for three fun food festivals that might be worth your time this month:

· Kumquat Festival – Dade City, Florida:
Of course the Sunshine State is known for oranges and grapefruits, but they’re also pretty darn awesome at growing kumquats. Dade City wants to share their love for the little orange fruits, and each year they invite like 40,000 friends to come check things out. This year’s festival is scheduled to run from 9am to 5pm on January 28—that’s a Saturday—and it’s free for all to enjoy.

Kumquat ice cream, kumquat pies, and kumquat cookies are just some of the special delicacies on display for sampling and snacking. Organizers are expecting around 350 different vendors to set up shop in the city’s downtown, so expect the usual arts, crafts, car shows, and entertainment in addition to all the tasty treats. There’s recipe contests too, and there’s even a chance to do your thing in hopes of scoring the title of Miss or Mister Kumquat.

· ZestFest – Irving, Texas:
January is a chilly month, so it’s a good idea to spice things up—with some chiles! They’re advertising this year’s ZestFest as a fiery food festival, as it takes place between January 27 and January 29 in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area. It all goes down at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas, and tickets will set you back $15 per person. It might be a little pricier than other food festivals, but your admission grants you access to all the cooking demonstrations and plenty of taste tests.

It’s one part food festival and one part trade show, so expect plenty of hot sauce—and hot stuff—companies peddling their latest and greatest wares. Celebrity chefs will be on hand to share the secrets, and live music, interactive exhibits, and plenty of spicy stuff rounds out the event’s offerings. Just be sure to note your favorite, as visitors are encouraged to vote in the Fiery Food Challenge for a chance to pick the People’s Preference Award.

· Fungus Fair – Santa Cruz, California:
There’s way more to mushrooms than their role as a pizza topping, and professors and professional are ready to explain it all to you this weekend in Santa Cruz. This year marks the 38th edition of the city’s fungus fair, and the fun is one part food festival and one part scientific conference. Things run from January 13 through January 15, so if you haven’t made plans for this weekend be sure to sync this up to your Google Calendar—you can thank us later.

There will be like 2,000 fungus fans heading to the Louden Nelson Community Center to check out hands-on activities for the kiddos, including a fungus exploration area and clay mushroom building. Mycologists—we looked it up too—will be doing lectures and presentations throughout the weekend, so don’t just expect to eat some fried ‘shrooms and head home. Admission is just $5 on Friday, but it’s $10 over the weekend. Just be sure to bring a couple extra bucks to spend at the "Just Mushroom Stuff" booth—they’ve got your souvenir shirts and fungi earrings.

[Photos: Zest Fest and Kumquat Growers]

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