Ohio Pawpaw Festival-Music, Food, Earth, Community
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.