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Thursday, September 16,2010

Celebrating the pawpaw

This year's Ohio Pawpaw Festival returns to Lake Snowden near Albany with three days (this Friday through Sunday) jam-packed with all things pawpaw.

In case anyone is still ignorant about the pawpaw, it's North America's largest native tree fruit; it also became the official native fruit of Ohio in 2009.

The festival kicks off Friday at 4 p.m., with educational workshops, a cooking demonstration and kids activities. Food vendors and the community marketplace of artists, non-profit groups and other vendors will be open. Live music will be featured on the main stage until midnight.

Highlights for Saturday include:

The Best Pawpaw Competition at 12:45 p.m. This annual contest features pawpaw fruits from all over the state and beyond. Judges rate individual fruits on a variety of characteristics.

The Pawpaw Eating Contest will take place at 5:30 p.m. on the main stage. Every year, brave and hardy souls line up to win this by eating one pound of pawpaw pulp with their hands behind their backs. They also need to eat the pulp off each and every seed to even be a contender.

Highlights for Sunday include:

The Pawpaw Cook-off at 1:30 p.m. Due to an overwhelming number of entries last year, the Pawpaw Cook-off needed its own afternoon for judging (and eating). Judges will sample pawpaw beverages, sauces, savories and desserts.

Other activities that will be in full swing on Saturday and Sunday are educational workshops and pawpaw-specific programming in the Pawpaw Tent; sustainable living workshops in the Ohio Country Fair Tent; a full slate of children's activities in the Kids Tent; Community Marketplace made up of artists, businesses and non-profits; the Beer Garden with pawpaw beer and other styles; and food vendors. Live music, scheduled for the entire weekend, will be headlined by Givers, a Louisiana band that was well-received earlier this year at the Nelsonville Arts & Music Festival, according to the release.

Other standbys such as the Pawpaw Double Nickel Bicycle Ride, atlatl throwing and competition, horse-drawn wagon rides, Ohio frontier camp, antique pedal cars and the Hocking Woods Nature Center Snake Tent all return to round out the festival. Balloon artists will also be roving the festival grounds for a couple hours each day.

Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Formal festival activities end by dusk on Friday and Saturday, with the remaining evening hours largely devoted to live music. The Beer Garden and many food vendors remain open through the night.

Admission is $6 per day, $10 for two days, or a weekend pass for $12. Children 12 and under are free. Dogs are permitted provided they are leashed and cleaned up after. To reserve an RV or tent campsite at Lake Snowden, call 698-6373.

The Ohio University Office of Sustainability again is sponsoring the Pawpaw Express, a free shuttle that takes festival-goers to and from the event. The shuttle will pick up and drop off at the Baker University Center on the OU campus.

For a complete festival schedule, visit, e-mail or call 740-698-6060.


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