The Ohio Pawpaw Festival will be held this weekend in Albany, Ohio, celebrating the fruit native to the lower Mississippi basin and mid-Atlantic regions at the peak of its harvest, with music, food, contests, art, history, education, sustainable living workshops and activities for the kids.
The pawpaw is described by Kentucky State University, site of the only full time pawpaw research program, as having a tropical flavor, with elements of the flavors of mango, papaya, and banana. Indeed, the pawpaw is part of a family of trees whose other members all grow is tropical areas. Kentucky State has 2000 trees from 17 states useful in analyzing the genetic diversity found in wild pawpaws.
Pawpaws from Ohio have been recognized as some of the best tasting, according to Chris Chmiel, founder of Integration Acres, a farm in Albany whose pawpaw trees and goat herd co-exist beautifully.
“The goats help manage our pawpaw trees,” Chris said. They eat all the unwanted vegetation, and cheese production from their milk helps support the farm in the event of a bad year, he noted. The farm’s other ventures include processing frozen seedless pawpaw pulp, and selling jarred pawpaw products.
“Pawpaws have a short shelf life, so we’ve found ways to provide year-round availability,” Chris said. “And, we’ve been a part of a huge effort to educate people about the uses of pawpaws.” In fact, the Ohio Pawpaw Festival is one of those education efforts.
The Ohio Pawpaw Festival will be held September 13, 14, and 15 at Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio. Hours are 4 – Midnight Friday, 10 – Midnight Saturday, and 10 – 4 Sunday, and admission is $10.00 daily, or $20.00 for the weekend.