Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is moving forward with its annual celebration of Florida's favorite fruit — with a virtual twist.
Typically held over two days, this year's International Mango Festival has been transformed into "Mango Days of Summer," a monthlong event that combines virtual interaction and onsite activities.
Kelley Ramer, the garden's director of event design and sponsorships, says the garden worked closely with the county to find new ways to communicate with its audience.
"We didn't want to disappoint the people who come every year. There will be something different every week for guests who are mango experts and those who are new to the scene."
To mark the festival's 28th edition, the 83-acre property on Old Cutler Road will host local small businesses every Saturday in July. To facilitate social distancing, attendance will be divided into two separate three-hour time slots and visitors will follow a one-way path that takes them past pop-up shops and food stands such as Ceviche & Guacamole House, Keez Bees Raw Honey, and Stacey's Naturals, all of which will offer mango-inspired snacks.
Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic baskets to make the most of their time al fresco.
"Being outdoors is essential for everyone’s well-being. And because mangos are such a South Florida staple, initiatives like this provide some pleasure and levity during these difficult times," says Nannette M. Zapata, the garden's chief operating officer.
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Home to one of the largest mango collections in the world — over 500 varieties grow on its farm in Homestead — Fairchild is celebrating its 82nd anniversary in the community. The garden is named after David Fairchild, the American botanist who traveled the world to send back seeds and cuttings of exotic plants, including the sweet, aromatic mango. Every Saturday in July, various mango varieties will be available for sale, including emerald, coconut cream, Francis Hargrave, and Karen Michelle. Transplant-ready mango trees will be on sale for $35.
On the online side, chefs from TuR Kitchen, Phuc Yea, and Jaguar will use the tropical fruits to show viewers how to make their favorite dishes and cocktails. The visual programming also includes a "Mango Speak" lecture series, which allows access to virtual workshops about tropical plants and conservation.
In addition, Fairchild Garden has partnered with Lincoln's Beard Brewing Co. to produce a limited edition mango sour named "Best Day Ever!" and with Sweet Melody Crafted Ice Cream Co. to make "It Takes Two to Mango," a limited-edition ice cream made with mangos and sour cream and a mango marmalade swirl.
Mango Days of Summer at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; fairchildgarden.org. Tickets range from $12 to $25.