KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Almost every traveler to the Florida Keys samples Key lime pie, the island chain’s signature dessert. Visitors can immerse themselves in all things Key lime, including a wacky pie-eating contest and gravity-defying “pie drop,” June 30 through July 4 in the town where the pie was born in the late 1800s.
The Key Lime Festival salutes the creamy pie and the tiny yellow fruit that inspired it. Made of condensed milk, egg yolks and Key lime juice, the pie filling is typically nestled in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream or meringue.
The festival begins Saturday, June 30, with a free 11 a.m. kick-off party at the Key West Lighthouse, 938 Whitehead St. Highlights include a contest where entrants attempt to drop actual Key lime pies from atop the lighthouse — without damaging the pies.
Saturday also features the Key Lime Cocktail Sip & Stroll, whose participants can sample Key lime martinis, margaritas and other limey libations at local watering holes.
Events Sunday, July 1, include a festive waterfront brunch and the annual Key Lime Pie Hop. The latter takes foodies on a stroll to sample five variations of the famed dessert — including an Oreo-crusted version at the pie’s presumed birthplace, the Curry Mansion at 511 Caroline St.
Lime lovers can sample Key lime rum Monday while touring the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, 105 Simonton St., and discover island city landmarks on the Key Lime Scavenger Hunt.
Other fun includes champagne cookbook signings at the Curry Mansion, where attendees can acquire signed copies of “The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook” and meet author and pie expert David Sloan.
The festival’s final event, and undoubtedly its messiest, is the Mile-High Key Lime Pie Eatin’ Contest set for Wednesday, July 4, at a location to be announced. Entrants must attempt to devour an entire 9-inch pie, topped with mountains of whipped cream, without using their hands — while trying to outpace their rivals and beat the pie-eating record of 51.92 seconds. Doors open at 10 a.m. and the contest begins at 11 a.m.
Event information, pricing and registration: keylimefestival.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY