Sunday, March 20, 2016

Swamp Cabbage Festival 2016

These are Sabal Palms or sometimes known as a Cabbage Palms. They are the Florida State Tree and are also edible.

There is an annual festival in LaBelle, Florida called The Swamp Cabbage Festival. Swamp Cabbage is the edible part of the Sabal Palm. If you have seen Hearts of Palm in cans or jars in your local grocery store then you have seen Swamp Cabbage.

The Colonel and I (as well as Yam and Spud) had been to the festival once, about eight years ago. This year was the 50th Anniversary of the Swamp Cabbage Festival and The Colonel, Darling-Sister-In-Law and I went to join the festivities.

First, there was a parade. The Colonel and I stood on a little grassy hill while Darling-Sister-In-Law stood on the sidewalk in front of us. The hill made for a great viewing spot. The parade lasted about an hour. We did not bring chairs to sit on because as soon as the last parade-entry passed us, we would join the parade and make our way to the riverside park where the festival was being held (and our car was not parked anywhere near the park and we did not want to carry the chairs around). I was asked to babysit a dog for a few minutes while her owner went to check on his truck. The dog's name was Ivy. She was a cute Schipperke (a breed originating in Belgium. A good watchdog on boats or houses). Ivy was well behaved and loved to be petted.

This was another dog nearby that Ivy was happy to meet.

The tail-end of the parade happened to be a group of Hispanic Cowboys on prancing/dancing horses and two county law enforcement officers on horseback. We had to watch our footsteps closely as we walked to the park.

Here are a few parade highlights. Notice how the palm fronds figure in some of the float designs.


We followed the end of the parade to the park that was already stuffed with people. Parade watching makes one hungry, so we looked to see what we wanted to eat. There were several booths offering many delectable bites. The Colonel and I decided to have Swamp Cabbage Fritters with the fried turkey nuggets. Darling-Sister-In-Law chose something else. 

There was live music being played on a bandstand as we walked around the park. Some favorite events of the Swamp Cabbage Festival are the Armadillo races. Bets were only $2, so Darling-Sister-In-Law split the bet and placed it on #3, Emily.

Emily was the first one out of the gate. The crowd was cheering and I think Darling-Sister-In-Law and I were cheering the loudest. Emily was clearly in the lead and had made her way halfway to the finish line when she took it into her little, Armadillo mind to turn 180 degrees and work her way back to the starting gate. Such is my luck when it comes to betting. Anyway, it was fun, nay exciting, cheering Emily on.

After the Armadillo race we continued walking around the park. Not only were there food booths, there were also craft booths. In one section of the park there were games and rides for the kids like a bouncy castle shaped like a UFO.

There was one activity for the kids that looked like so much fun.

The Colonel and I walked on the bridge over the Caloosahatchee River to see the river and part of the festival in the park.

It was time to make our way back to our car. We retraced to path of the parade as we walked. We visited a shop for honey. I bought some Seagrape Honey, one of the most delicious honeys I know of. We also saw a man selling Swamp Cabbage soup on the roadside. He had a cup or so left. We bought what he had. Darling-Sister-In-Law had never tasted it before. It was delicious!

The Colonel and I love going to the festivals that are special and unique to the surrounding area. Must look at the calendar to see what is coming up next.