Despite our close proximity to the Redlands, Homestead and the Everglades, how much do most Miamians really know about our agro-Arcadia? For most of us, trips south likely consist of a Starbucks stop en route to the Keys or a Sunday morning cinnamon roll excursion. But there's more than meets the eye in the Redlands region, and Miamians who participate in this Saturday's Redland Riot Road Rallye will find out exactly what.
Part road trip, part history lesson, the Rallye leads teams on a leisurely trip through some of the Homestead area's famous haunts, led by local tour guide extraordinaire Robert Burr. From Robert is Here to the Fruit & Spice Park, participants get to eat their way across the countryside, stroll in the footsteps of Florida's citrus pioneers, and answer cryptic questions along the way.
The concept kicked off in 1991 when founder Robert Burr started leading friends on informal tours through the Redland region. Burr, a seventh generation Floridian, grew up picking produce and exploring the lush bounty of South Dade.
"There's a general perception that the Redlands area is just a bunch of dirt and farms, but the underlying message here is that there are truly charming, wonderful places that are different from any other kind of experience in South Florida," Burr says.
In the '90s, his tour groups would stop for goodies and Burr would wax on about local lore. Over the years, the crew grew and grew, and in 2006, there were so many participants that Burr changed the format and created a competition.
Thus the Road Rallye was born. These days, each car is its own team, and participants get a map, driving directions and a set of questions based on signs, images, buildings and items en route. It's $10 per car, and teams mosey along at their own pace. Rallye-goers will learn about the citrus boom of the 1800s, taste jackfruit and wax jambu and get some QT with local characters.
"Some participants are very dedicated to winning," Burr says. "They're the type that are very observant, read the signs, look around and find clues to the answers in plain sight, which others might have missed."
Stops include Cauley Square, Burr's Berry Farm, Knaus Berry Farm, the Fruit & Spice Park, Robert Is Here and the volunteer-run Florida Pioneer Museum, among others. New this year is the addition of Phil's Berry Farm, where proprietor Phil serves up monkey bread and mango shakes.
Schnebly Redland's Winery is the end game, where rallye leaders check teams' answers and announce a winner. In the case of a tie, teams get to answer tie-breaker questions. The winner scores a basket with a couple bottles of wine and gift certificates to some of the tour's stops, including the deliciousness that is Robert Is Here.
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"You're gonna learn something and meet some wonderful people and taste some lovely things," says Burr. "If you think this is fun you're automatically gonna like the other people you meet. All the curmudgeons stay home that day and all the fun people come out. You'll see families, you'll see car club fanatics, you'll see foodies, you'll see history fanatics. Load up the car with Aunt Edna and the grandchildren - it's sort of an All-American fun thing."
So this Saturday, skip the breakfast and save room for mamey milkshakes and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls. The Rallye starts at 10 a.m. at Cauley Square. Participation costs $10 per team. Visit redlandriot.com/Rallye.html
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.