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JEFFERSON CITY, MO, AUG. 31, 2022 – Missouri’s largest edible fruit, the pawpaw, can grow up to 6 inches long, with peak ripening in September. Can you find the biggest one? Help celebrate this edible part of Missouri’s history by participating in the Fourth Annual Picking Up Pawpaws Contest at Bennett Spring State Park.

To join the contest, bring the largest pawpaw you can find to the nature center at Bennett Spring State Park. Pawpaws will be accepted 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, Sept. 14-24. Contestants will provide their name, phone number and the county where the pawpaw was harvested. A photo of each picker and their pawpaw will also be taken.

Missouri’s official state fruit tree, the pawpaw’s flavor is often compared to a blend of banana and mango, and can be eaten raw or baked. Lewis and Clark ate them on their 1806 expedition and Native Americans wove the tree’s inner bark into fibers for cloth. Early pioneers also used the inner bark for stringing fish.

Bennett Spring State Park is located at 26250 Highway 64A in Lebanon. For more information, call 417-532-3925. Participants should meet at the nature center.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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