Fifth Annual Picking Up Pawpaws Contest

9/13/2023 to 9/23/2023 | Bennett Spring State Park | Lebanon, MO

The pawpaw is Missouri's largest edible fruit. It can grow up to 6 inches long and is often described as 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 official state fruit tree. Help celebrate this edible part of Missouri's history from Sept. 13-23.

We invite you to go for a hike or search your own private pawpaw patch to find the biggest pawpaw you can. Bring it to the nature center at Bennett Spring State Park to be officially entered into the contest. The winner will receive a prize. Peak ripening is in September. 

Pawpaws will be weighed at the nature center Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pickers will provide their name and phone number along with the county in Missouri where the pawpaw was harvested. A photo will be taken of each picker and pawpaw.

The winner of the pawpaw contest will be announced at 3 p.m. on Ladies’ Free Fishing Day (Sept. 30) at the nature center. There will be wild edibles to try prior to the announcement.

For more information, call the nature center at 417-532-3925.

Contest dates: Sept. 13-23
Weigh-in times: Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Click here for pawpaw recipes.

Bennett Spring State Park is located at:

26250 Highway 64A, Lebanon, MO | 417-532-4338