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KEY WEST, Florida Keys - For decades, Keys cooks have flavored their dishes with tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and Key lime gleaned from trees that grow along the island chain. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 25, these tropical fruits and many others are to be celebrated at the annual Florida Keys Tropical Fruit Fiesta.

The family-friendly festival is to take place at Key West's Bayview Park, Truman Avenue and Eisenhower Drive, with a focus on fun and sharing "fruitful" knowledge. The event is produced by the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in cooperation with the Monroe County Cooperative Extension Office.

Attendees can sample ripe tropical fruit and choose from hundreds of top-quality fruit trees for sale - including some rare and unusual hand-raised trees - and compete for prizes in a popular homegrown fruit contest.

Kids who attend the fiesta can plant their own pineapples, write secret messages on tree leaves and compete in a laughter-packed orange-pineapple bowl. Those eager to learn more about growing tropical fruit can gain insights from a series of lectures and consult horticultural experts from Miami's Fairchild Tropical Gardens and the University of Florida.

Other attractions are to include educational exhibits from local agencies, gardening books for sale, fruit and garden-related wares offered by vendors, and even food and ice cream on hand to satisfy the taste buds.

Admission to all scheduled events is free.

For more information, call 305-292-4501 or e-mail

For lodging information in Key West, contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY or explore this Web site.

Posted On: June 18, 2005

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