What’s a pawpaw? If you’ve never seen one of these Chesapeake-region native fruits in real life, now is your chance. Harford County, Md. has an entire festival dedicated to them, coming this Sunday.
The second annual Harford County Pawpaw Festival takes place at Broom’s Bloom, a historic house, working dairy farm, and restaurant in Bel Air popular for its ice cream. The festival is part celebration of this lesser-known fruit, part environmental awareness, and part community servive as proceeds support the Susquehannock Wildlife Society, who have helped in many a heroic wildlife rescue.
Organizers say the first Pawpaw Festival, held last year, was so popular that the pawpaw-related items sold out before the festival was over. This time, they bought 150 pounds of ripe pawpaw from local wholesale farm Deep Run Pawpaw Orchard, which grows a variety of cultivar trees. You can taste the fruit in bottled lemonade, baked goods, and a special ice cream flavor from Broom’s Bloom. Visitors will be able to buy the ripened fruit itself to bring home.
The harvest for pawpaws is a short window of a few weeks around September. The mango-like green fruit is the largest edible fruit native to the United States, and is sometimes referred to as custard bananas. The plant is a small, deciduous tree with long leaves that grows in rich forested areas throughout the Bay watershed, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program.
The Pawpaw Festival runs Sunday, Oct. 3, 12pm-3pm and is funded with a tourism grant from the Harford County Office of Community & Economic Development.
The Susquehannock Wildlife Society, who benefits from the event, supports wildlife rescues throughout the upper Bay area, from snakes to bald eagles.
-Meg Walburn Viviano