Ohio Pawpaw Festival-Music, Food, Earth, Community

Ohio Pawpaw Festival-Music, Food, Earth, Community

 The Pawpaw Capital of the world! This fella was so excited about the fest, he asked to be a part of the "sign photo". Love it! Photo by  Michelle Waters

The Pawpaw Capital of the world! This fella was so excited about the fest, he asked to be a part of the "sign photo". Love it! Photo by Michelle Waters

For 18 years now, foodies, music lovers and environmentalists have all come together in Southeastern Ohio to celebrate the nation’s largest tree fruit native to the US (and the official state fruit): The Pawpaw.

 Festival attendees participating in a pawpaw eating contest, as the other fest goers cheer them on. Photo by  Michelle Waters

Festival attendees participating in a pawpaw eating contest, as the other fest goers cheer them on. Photo by Michelle Waters

As the show has evolved, the Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival has hosted a variety of activities such as educational talks, high quality regional music (over half of the bands and performing musicians this year were from Ohio, alone), one of the greatest food truck courts (brimming with pawpaw specialties, just for the Fest) in the whole midwest, and the pawpaw beer garden. A unique blend of banana, mango and (some say) pineapple flavors, with a consistency of custard, pawpaws are high in Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese-generally the same or in even greater amounts than found in bananas, apples or oranges-and yet this fruit, plentiful in the midwest, gets little attention in the food world. 

 Athens, OH band,  Water Witches , playing their hearts out to a very receptive crowd. Photo by  Michelle Waters

Athens, OH band, Water Witches, playing their hearts out to a very receptive crowd. Photo by Michelle Waters

Chris Chmiel, founder of the fest, and an Athens County Commissioner, decided years ago that more people needed to learn about this unusual and highly nutritious fruit. So to build Pawpaw awareness, the festival was born. 18 years later, The Ohio Pawpaw Festival has now become one of the top combined food and environmental festivals in the state of Ohio, blending opportunities for education on sustainable energy and culinary topics with strong support for local music and business, all while building an energetic, happy and family-friendly experience for all ages. 

 Lawrence Green, drumming the crowd together for the festival's Tae Kwan Do demonstration. Lawrence is part of the  RAW (Rising Appalachian Warriors)  program, which has summer camps for kiddos, and also hosted the kids' tent at the fest. Photo by  Michelle Waters

Lawrence Green, drumming the crowd together for the festival's Tae Kwan Do demonstration. Lawrence is part of the RAW (Rising Appalachian Warriors) program, which has summer camps for kiddos, and also hosted the kids' tent at the fest. Photo by Michelle Waters

 As the night grows on, children of all ages loved playing on this luminary playground. Photo by  Michelle Waters

As the night grows on, children of all ages loved playing on this luminary playground. Photo by Michelle Waters

But don’t let the name, or the environmental heart fool you. The music is just as big of an attraction for fest goers as is the fruit. The diverse live music on the solar powered stage varied from local psych rock favorites Water Witches, to appalachian surf rockers, The D-Rays, to the acoustic music of Steve Free, the garage country of Mobile Home, reggae, soca and calypso music by The Ark Band, the straight up, dreamy rock and roll of Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons, and the Pittsburgh based feel-good rock band, Rusted Root. The festival attendees were fully engaged with the musical performances, often surrounding the stage and dancing through the bands’ entire sets. And while the crowds surrounded the tables for the pawpaw eating and cooking contests, everyone was just as excited to immerse themselves in a great live music experience. 

 Surf rockers, The  D-Rays  (from Athens, OH), brought a great groove to Friday night's festival lineup. Photo by  Michelle Waters

Surf rockers, The D-Rays (from Athens, OH), brought a great groove to Friday night's festival lineup. Photo by Michelle Waters

  The Ark Band  (from Columbus, OH) brought so much awesome energy with their roots reggae, soca and calypso music on Saturday night. Photo by  Michelle Waters

The Ark Band (from Columbus, OH) brought so much awesome energy with their roots reggae, soca and calypso music on Saturday night. Photo by Michelle Waters

 Saturday night closed out with headliners,  Rusted Root . Did you know their home base is in Pittsburgh? Photo by  Michelle Waters

Saturday night closed out with headliners, Rusted Root. Did you know their home base is in Pittsburgh? Photo by Michelle Waters

Each year, the attendance grows larger, but the crew at the Ohio Pawpaw fest continues to foster a cozy family vibe throughout the grounds of Lake Snowden (where the festival has taken place since 2001). Make sure you save the dates for next year’s 19th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Fest, which has already been announced: September 15-17, 2017. You’ll be sure to have so much to learn, experience and appreciate, you’ll wish it lasted (at least) 4 days. 

 When you go next year, be sure to look for cool, interactive artwork like this rainbow swing. Here you can listen to the music gently roll over your ears while you sway back and forth, staring at the sky...photo by  Michelle Waters.

When you go next year, be sure to look for cool, interactive artwork like this rainbow swing. Here you can listen to the music gently roll over your ears while you sway back and forth, staring at the sky...photo by Michelle Waters.

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