Fairchild's Mango Festival Showcases the Mangos of Hawaii

If it ever stops raining, Mapulehu, Exel and Momi K are some of the varieties you'll see this weekend at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's 19th Annual International Mango Festival, which celebrates the Hawaiian version of this special tropical fruit.

Hawaiian mangos were chosen this year because of their flavor and potential in the market, according to tropical fruit curator Richard Campbell, who led a tour and mango tasting at Fairchild Farm last week.

Mangos were introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s but they weren't very adaptable. Between the 1930s and 50s, however, new genes were imported and the University of Hawaii began to transform the mango, releasing new, more adaptable fruit in the 60s and 70s. Today Hawaii has a small mango industry with flavorful varieties featured at local farmers markets.

Over two days, festivalgoers will be able to learn about them and taste some 30 varieties from around the world selected by Campbell and and fellow curator Noris Ledesma. That's only a fraction of the 550 varieties in the Fairchild mango collection, the largest in the United States.

While the mango tasting is our favorite part of the festival, the weekend also brings cooking demos by local chefs (including E. Michael Reidt of Area 31 and Norman and Justin Van Aken), lectures, and a mango auction. On Saturday, local restaurants will offer free samples of their mango dishes. And on Sunday morning, you can enjoy a mango-themed brunch. Mangos of every shape and color will also be available at the festival's market. (See the full schedule here.)

The mango festival takes place on July 9 and 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $12 for children 6 to 17, and free for Fairchild members. Tickets for the brunch are $100 for members and $125 for non-members. To reserve, call 305-663-8058 or visit fairchildgarden.org/mangobrunch.

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