Key Lime Festival July 3 – 7

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Fans of sweet and tart Key lime pie can salute the Florida Keys’ signature dessert and the tiny fruit that inspired it Wednesday through Sunday, July 3-7, during the annual Key Lime Festival. Events include a Key lime pie–eating contest, “limey” dining delights, a wacky Key lime pie drop, a series of pie–making classes, and culinary and libation tastings.

Believed to have originated in Key West in the late 1800s, Key lime pie was designated Florida’s official pie in 2006 by the state legislature. Its primary ingredients are condensed milk, egg yolks and the juice of the tiny yellow Key lime, with the creamy filling typically nestled in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream or meringue.

The Key Lime Festival’s official kickoff is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, featuring author and festival co-founder David Sloan, who penned “The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook.” The event is scheduled at the Curry Mansion, 511 Caroline St., a lavish property whose kitchen is renowned as the pie’s birthplace.

The festival’s best known attraction is the World Famous Key Lime Pie Eating Championship set for Thursday, July 4, outside the Southernmost Beach Café, 1405 Duval St. Entrants must attempt to devour an entire 9-inch pie, topped with mountains of whipped cream, in the fastest time — without using their hands.

The free-to-watch beachfront competition is paired with family-friendly games and a Key Lime Vendor Village featuring lime-inspired wares ranging from local art and jewelry to beauty products. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the contest takes place at 1:30 p.m.

Friday’s highlights are to include the Key Lime Sip & Stroll cocktail sampling for libation lovers, a Key Lime Bike Tour, a lively tasting of locally distilled Key lime rum — and even a fundraising bash where local notables just might get a pie in the face.

The quirky Key Lime Pie Drop is to headline Saturday’s events. Scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the gravity-defying competition challenges entrants to craft contraptions to hold and protect miniature pies — and then drop their creations from atop the Key West Lighthouse, 938 Whitehead St., without damaging the pie. While few pies land unscathed each year, the free-admission contest typically draws hundreds of spectators to watch the fun.

Other scheduled festival attractions include a Key lime tree cultivation master class, 5k run, daily lime-infused culinary experiences, a pool party, a historical presentation on Key limes and the pie they inspired, a wacky “Hot Wheels” race and the annual Key Lime Pie Hop. The latter, offered multiple times Sunday, July 7, takes foodies on a stroll to sample five variations of the famed dessert.

Event schedule, tickets and registration, visit keylimefestival.com

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