LAKEPORT – The third Saturday in January brings the Lakeport Sour Orange Festival, sponsored by the Lakeport Community Association.
The 2021 Sour Orange Festival is planned for Saturday, Jan. 16 at the Lakeport Community Center on Red Barn Road. The festival opens at 8 a.m. Flag raising will be at 9 a.m. Live music by The Hired Guns will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Lakeport Community Association will sell pulled pork sandwiches and French fries as well as sour orange pies. T-shirts available at the Lakeport Community Association booth will feature the recipe for sour orange pies. Festival vendors will include a variety of arts and crafts.
The sour orange BBQ Rib Cook-off judging will be at noon. It is mandatory to include sour orange in the recipe be it juice, zest, peel, wood or seasonings. Entry fee is $50. First place prize is $150, second place prize is $100, third place prize is $50. For information on the BBQ contest call Jeff Patterson at 863-228-5162.
About sour oranges:
According to “Fruits of Warm Climates” by Julia F. Morton, sour orange trees are also known as bitter, bigarade, or Seville orange. In Spanish-speaking areas sour orange may be called naranja ácida, naranja agria, or naranja amarga. The tree ranges in height from about 10 feet to 30 feet tall. The sour orange is native to southeastern Asia. Spaniards are believed to have introduced the sour orange into St. Augustine, and the trees were quickly adopted by the early settlers and local Indians. Hardy sour orange was used as a rootstock for sweet orange trees.
Located in northern Glades County along the northwestern shore of Lake Okeechobee, Lakeport was founded in 1913 and originally known as the Lakeport Colony. A dock was constructed on Lake Okeechobee at Lakeport and freight and mail was received while produce, fish, fur, and skins were shipped out. When the railroad reached the City of Okeechobee in the early 1900s, thereby allowing shipping of items to northern states, Lakeport came to be named the “Fish Capital” of Florida.
The fish in the lake in the early days consisted of catfish, gar, shad, blue gills and crappie or speckled perch (speck), as they are known here, and bass. Due to large scale seine netting in the early years of pioneer settlement around the lake, bass is the predominant species left. Because of this, Lake Okeechobee is known as the “Bass Capital” of the world and is celebrated by fishermen. Duck hunters also flock to the lake to take advantage of the fine hunting available on the water.
In Lakeport, the lake is accessible from Harney Pond park, which boasts boat ramps, picnic tables, restrooms and a boardwalk that offers a breathtaking view of Lake Okeechobee.