Bennett Spring State Park staff members invite the public to celebrate an edible part of Missouri’s history by searching for the biggest pawpaw, the state’s largest edible fruit, which ripen in September. Participants can enter their pawpaw into the annual Picking Up Pawpaws Contest by bringing them to the Bennett Spring nature center for weigh-in from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, through Saturday, Sept. 25.
Entries must be obtained from Missouri. The largest pawpaw will be announced Saturday, Sept. 25. Photos will be taken of the participant and entry at weigh-in.
Pawpaws can grow up to 6 inches long and are often compared to a banana with mango flavor. The fruit can be eaten raw or baked. Lewis and Clark were known to eat them on their expedition in 1806; Native Americans wove the inner bark into fibers for cloth; and pioneers used the inner bark for stringing fish. The pawpaw is also Missouri’s state fruit tree.
Bennett Spring State Park is located at 26250 Highway 64A in Lebanon. For more information about the contest, call the nature center at 417-532-3925 or fish hatchery staff at 417-532-4418.
For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.