Paw Paw, Michigan

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Paw Paw is a village in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the village population was 3,363. It is the county seat of Van Buren County[3].



The village is located at the confluence of the east and south branches of the Paw Paw River in the northeast portion of Paw Paw Township, but is politically independent. Paw Paw was incorporated in 1837 and is located in the southwestern portion of Michigan, on Interstate 94 approximately 20 miles west of Kalamazoo.

Paw Paw is in a rural location whose primary agricultural product is grapes, which are used both in the local Michigan wine industry and for juice and jellies. The St. Julian Winery and Warner's Winery started in Paw Paw. Paw Paw has an annual Wine and Harvest Festival, which traditionally occurs the weekend following Labor Day. The Festival features a beer tent, bandstand, live music, a popular grape stomping competition among barefoot locals, carnival foods, and fireworks over scenic Maple Lake. Fine dining establishments in the Theater District cater to attendees of the Festival.

Paw Paw is named for the pawpaw trees which once grew along the Paw Paw River. However, the pawpaw trees are less common at present due to the clearing of the shade trees that pawpaws require. An experimental planting of pawpaw trees on the high school grounds failed to flourish due to its location in an open, sunny field.

Paw Paw has also recently gained national prominence as the site of the Great Wheelchair Ride of Ben Carpenter (2007) The story of this event was carried by most major news media organizations, including the BBC.[citation needed]

The village is the main setting for the musical Dear Edwina by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich.

Historic sites

Listed in the National Register for Historic places is the Van Buren County Courthouse, wherein the first election was held in 1837. Renovations were completed in 1999.[4]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km²), of which, 2.7 square miles (6.9 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (7.29%) is water.

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