Pawpaw Festival Celebrates 14th Year

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Organizers of the Pawpaw Festival say the fruit becomes more popular every year.

"The Pawpaw Festival has really brought pawpaws to the people… pawpaw foods, pawpaw art, pawpaw cosmetics, pawpaw medicine," said organizer Chris Chmiel. "These are all ways that people have incorporated more and more pawpaws into their lives."

Last year, more than 6,000 people turned out for the festival, and word of mouth has drawn more people in.

"If I'm any indication, I've been telling everybody I'm coming," said Jessica Garrett Mills of Columbus, "so they're like, 'What's a pawpaw?' I'm like, 'It's ohio's native fruit. You gotta come.'"

"And I think most people are open to it," said Heidi Pierron of Columbus. "They think it's interesting because most people from Ohio don't even know that pawpaw grows in Ohio so then they kind of become fascinated with it so they look up on the Internet what the pawpaw is."

Pierron says the fruit tastes like "a mixture between banana and mango with the texture of an avocado."

There were plenty of opportunities to try it, as the food vendors had to incorporate pawpaws into their menus.

"We make that a requirement because when people come here, we want to make sure they have an authentic experience," Chmiel said. "You don't want to go to an event that's called something and then have nothing to do about it."

Kids also had some activities.

Dogs did, too, at an adjacent park called "Paws at the Pawpaw."

After 14 years, organizers say it's the world's largest and longest-running pawpaw festival.