American Food Festivals - This festival celebrates a citrus fruit well suited for pie or a mixed drink

The next stop on our American Food Festival takes us to one of the southernmost points in the continental United States, Key West, Florida. If the picture didn't give you a clue to this event, it is the annual Key Lime Festival.

For the uninitiated, the Key Lime is a citrus fruit once native to the Keys and southern Florida. Although it is not widely grown in the Keys, it is still celebrated in food and drink. 

According to Southern Living, "Key limes tend to be small and seedy, with a distinctive lime flavor that is tart but not too acidic. They also have a distinct aroma, far more aromatic than common limes. Grocery store limes, generally speaking, are Persian limes, the most widely commercially cultivated variety of lime."

Now that we have that out of the way, Key Limes are most known as the anchor of Florida's official pie, Key Lime Pie. The tart fruit is also perfect in cocktails such as Key Lime martinis or Gimlets.

Key Lime is known for its role in pies, so the festival includes a Key Lime pie-eating contest. Another event involving pies is held at Key West's famous watering hole, Sloppy Joe's.

Get ready for a twist on the traditional pie-eating contest. For a donation benefiting the Key West High School Marching Band, participants can get a pie to the face! 

Yet another event involving pies is the Key Lime pie drop. Contestants will vie for cash prizes as they airdrop pies from the Key West lighthouse. 

While there are several free events, there are also more adult-themed events. One such event is the Key Sip & Stroll, where participants vote on "who makes the best Key Lime cocktail on the island as multiple bars compete for your vote with the finest key lime margaritas and key lime 'open' cocktail in Key West."  

This year's event is between July 3 and 7. The drive from Key Largo to Key West is known as "The Highway That Goes To Sea" and is a major attraction for visitors. 

While the Key West airport has scheduled flights for out-of-state visitors, a flight to any South Florida airport is probably the better choice. Besides, unless you are averse to a beautiful trip, why not drive to Key West?    

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