Fall and winter in Natural North Florida can be warm, but generally not as hot as in the summer months. And cool days and nights mean that it’s “food festival time”, with several great events on the region’s calendars.
Some events revolve around drink, like the Big Bend Brewfest. Others center on food, especially the farm-to-table offerings at Swallowtail Farms and seafood at the Panacea Oyster Festival and the Cedar Key Seafood Festival.
Panacea Oyster Festival, October 14, 2018
There’s no doubt that some of the world’s best oysters come from Florida’s Big Bend, where freshwater rivers empty just the right amount of water to dilute the Gulf’s salt to the perfect solution for oysters to thrive. And in recent years, there’s been an increasing interest farm-raised oysters. Aquaculture is the future of providing plenty of healthy and tasty seafood, and the farm-raised species grown in Wakulla County are among the finest–and tastiest!
Panacea is located just south of Tallahassee on US98. From Tallahassee, head south on US319. From the west (Apalachicola/Panama City/Pensacola) head east on US98. From the East (Perry and the Florida peninsula), head west on US98.
Cedar Key Seafood Festival, October 20 & 21, 2018
Long before Cedar Key became a lumbering and pencil-making town, it was a fishing town. Native Americans, likely Timicua, pulled all sorts of shellfish and fin-fish from the local bays and island shores. Now, the main “crop” is hard shell clams, making Cedar Key one of the largest producers in the U.S. In addition to clams, local fishers still harvest mullet, stone and blue crabs, and oysters.
The Cedar Key Seafood Festival is the community’s celebration of the past and the future. Food abounds, reminding visitors of the importance of this archipelago of Gulf islands’ past. And there’s art and crafts, homage to the current status of Cedar Key as an arts-oriented community and tourist mecca. The weekend also offers an opportunity to tour the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory.
Cedar Key is located at the most-western extreme of Levy County, at the terminus of SR24. SR24 (Archer Road in Gainesville) crosses US19/98 at Otter Creek. From there, it’s about 24 miles to Cedar Key.
Big Bend Brewfest, March 2, 2019
Perry, Florida (Florida’s Forest Capitol) has, in recent years, moved some of it’s festivals to Rosehead Park, just a few blocks from the center of town. Now there’s beer—GOOD beer–available at many local festivals and functions. 2018 was the kickoff year for the Big Bend Brewfest, and it was a big success. Tickets sold out quickly and the crowd enjoyed the cool late winter evening under the trees at the park. Tickets for the 2019 event are available NOW, ONLINE.
Craft beer is the focus, with many beer styles represented, including pale ales, IPAs, porters, stouts, wheats, ambers, and lagers.
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Swallowtail Farm’s Farm To Table Events, October and November 2018
“Swallowtail Farm is located north of Alachua, along a fertile ridge of highland soil that crests the spine of Florida. We have crafted the farm as a model of sustainability and fine land stewardship, with a focus on appropriate scale, conservation of resources, and nature-produced fertility. No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals will ever touch our fields or your food.”