Florida Rediscovers Its Orangy Past

Until a couple of decades ago, Dade City, Florida, was the Hershey, Pennsylvania of orange juice. But Americans developed a taste for non-concentrated juice, and globalization allowed Brazil to undercut Florida's citrus growers. In 2004 Dade City's Lykes-Pasco plant, once the largest juice processing plant in the world, closed its doors forever.

Orange.Now the plant -- or at least a small part of it -- is being reopened as a museum.

Local businessman Jim Guedry bought the abandoned plant in 2005 and opened part of it as his Citrus County Groves packing house and retail store. In January 2007 he plans to open another part -- what had been the Lykes-Pasco office building -- as the Dade City Citrus Museum and Theater. Visitors will see ladders, fruit collecting bags, and wooden crates that were stored in a barn by a local family after they got out of the business in the 1980s. They'll also see a 20-minute documentary about the citrus industry, then take a tram ride through the Citrus Country Groves' packing house and a small grove of orange and grapefruit trees that Guedry has had planted especially for the attraction.

The free citrus museum will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during tourist season and add days if needed.

North edge of town, east side of US 301, at the corner of Lock St./Blanton Rd.

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