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International Mango Festival Uses Auction As Education

Carla Javier

Over the weekend, the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden hosted the 22nd annual International Mango Festival.

The highlight of the festival was what organizers say is the world's only mango auction.

But according to Dr. Richard Campbell, director of horticulture at Fairchild and auction co-host, the festival is not just for buying and selling mango products. It's educational.

"They all have a story," he explains. "They're all named for a person, a country, an event, a place. They all have a genetic history plus a cultural history an ethnic history. And so in about 15 seconds I have to kind of try to summarize that."

One of the hundreds of fruits sold at the auction was the Colombian vallenato.

Noris Ledesma is the curator of tropical fruits at Fairchild. She's from Colombia. She explains the vallenato is the mango of export for Colombia.

"That's the mango that can travel well," she says. "It's red. It tastes like apricots. It has more balance with sweet and acid that is more appealing for everybody."

At the auction, the room is packed. At least 200 people listen as Campbell describes the fruits. They hold paddles in the shape of mangos and raise them to bid. 

The winner of the auction for five pieces of vallenato won it for $75. And everybody else? They learned a little bit more about the Colombian fruit. 

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