Several thousand people are expected to trek out to Colorfield Farms this weekend and next for owner Anne Pidgeon's annual Mango Festival.
For the first time since the festival began in 2009 the event will take place over two weekends to accommodate the growing crowds.
"We're trying to make the festival a more relaxing, enjoyable experience by stretching it out," Pidgeon said. "Plus it gives people more choice about deciding when to come."
If visitors aren't mango lovers when they arrive, they certainly will be when they leave, she said.
"Anyone who's never had a tree-ripened mango has no idea how the fruit really tastes," Pidgeon said. "The ones they find in the grocery store are usually picked and shipped green from Mexico. They blush too early, have lots more fiber and much less flavor. They will never fully ripen and become sweet."
Last year, more than 2,500 people came from communities all over South Shore, greater Brandon, Tampa and even Manatee County.
As always, mangoes will star in the festival. Between the trees, fruit and continuous free samples, more than a dozen varieties will be featured. Favorites like Keitts, Nam Doc Meis and Kents will top the list, each offering its own distinct flavor.
Pidgeon said she hosts the festival to build public awareness and generate additional business for Colorfield Farms.
The laid-back event includes daily educational demonstrations at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; guest speakers; and lots of free handouts. Topics will include "Growing Tropical Fruit in Central Florida," "Culinary Mango Creation Tips" and "Ask the Expert."
There will also be hands-on activities for kids, a butterfly tent and plenty of food, including pulled pork sandwiches, Jamaican patties, empanadas, burgers, hot dogs and mango slushies.
Freshly picked mangoes and dozens of varieties of mango, citrus and other fruit trees will be sold, along with native and butterfly plants, local honey, herbs and other products from the Colorfield Farms nursery and garden center.
Admission is $10. Children 5 and younger and seniors 80 and older get in free, and there is free parking and a free shuttle service.
"It's a tropical party under our giant oak trees," Pidgeon said.
"It's fun, casual, and there will be lots of good things to eat," she added. "It's a relaxing way for folks to spend some time with their friends and family."
For additional information, call (813) 833-2545 or visit www.colorfieldfarms.com.