LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival: Part of Our Heritage
July 15, 2014
It’s funny how much culture small towns can hold. Part of what makes where we live unique is that we are still such a melting pot of ethnicities and traditions. Small town America is seeping with different food, music, art, and culture. LaBelle is no different. Since 1965 they have celebrated an annual festival that has become an honored tradition for the town. The LaBelle Swamp Cabbage festival is celebrated by locals and visitors alike. It’s an opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate their unique swamp cabbage history!
This is a local celebration held the last weekend in February in LaBelle to honor the official state tree. What better way to honor something than to eat it, right? Well that’s exactly what this festival is all about. The heart of the cabbage palm is known as a delicacy. Whether it’s made into fritters or swamp cabbage it’s a Southern Florida tradition. People visit the festival from all over to try the famous swamp cabbage for the first time.
The Swamp Cabbage Festival kicks off with the Swamp Cabbage Parade. The parade features floats, bands, and local business men and women from the community. The floats are decorated using the swamp cabbage palm fronds making their creators local landscape architects for the day. The parade comes to an end at the main stage where the live music, food, and entertainment continue. The urban landscape design of the town is the perfect setting for people of all ages to come together to celebrate this historic event.
The festival also features about 100 vending booths with food and crafts from all over Southwest Florida. These booths showcase the creativity and talent we have in our community. Some of the best local food can be had at the Swamp Cabbage Festival. New and different combinations come together for some very interesting and delicious tastings.
If great food and music aren’t enough, we also have the crowning of the Swamp Cabbage Queen, armadillo races, and a rodeo. All the makings for a good ol’ southern day of fun. The Swamp Stomp 5K is also part of the Cabbage Festival. The race takes you throughout the streets of LaBelle highlighting the beautiful moss-covered Live Oak trees and historic urban planning design of the downtown. All proceeds of the 5K go to the Caloosa Humane Society. This is a no kill shelter for homeless animals in our community. People of all ages run, walk, or jog across the finish line for a good cause.
The rodeo just celebrated its 5th year at the festival. The Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association puts together the rodeo at the LaBelle Rodeo Grounds. The winner of the competition qualifies for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association finals in Kissimmee. Proceeds of this event benefit the Hendry County 4-H club.
You don’t need the bright lights and bustle of a big city to have a great time. The Swamp Cabbage Festival of LaBelle has something for the whole family to enjoy. It’s one of the best times for the community and visitors to come together to celebrate our strong Florida heritage with some swamp cabbage.