Datil Pepper Festival coming to County Fair

Historic City News readers will enjoy the Fourth Annual St. Johns County – St. Augustine Datil Pepper Festival coming to the St. Johns County Fair from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on October 23rd.

Last year’s event, which was held at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center, was reported to be a big success. This year’s Datil Pepper Festival will be held at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds on State Road 207 in Elkton. According to agriculture agent Steven Lands at the St. Johns County Extension Service office, this year should be even more popular.

Part of the festivities will be a cookoff, with participating chefs providing an appetizer and an entree dish using St. Augustine’s own datil pepper as an ingredient. The Datil pepper has been used in St. Augustine since the 1800s, especially by the Minorcan community in many traditional local dishes such as chowder, pilau, hot sauces, and jellies.

Samples will be available for “public tasting” and sampling tickets will be sold $1 per sample of each dish.

Festival admission is free. Parking is $2 per vehicle. Datil pepper plants and seeds will be available for purchase on the day of the festival.

There will be two judging categories: Professional Award and a People’s Choice Award. A panel of professionals in the food industry, headed by Chef David Bearl from First Coast Technical College, will judge the Professional Award category. The People’s Choice Award will be judged by the participating public at the festival. The Datil Cook-Off will be conducted from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Participating restaurants scheduled to participate include Hot Shot Bakery, Collage, Free Spirit Catering, Kingfish Grill, The Reef, Stephen’s Fine Foods, A Chef’s Cooking Studio, Bubba and Gianni’s, The Tasting Room, Hastings Cafe, Aunt Kate’s, FCTC Culinary Arts Program and more.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Slow Food First Coast School Garden Grant program.

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