They are the perfect ointment for mosquito bites, cousins to the orchid family, a staple item in 96% of households and the quickest way to cure a hangover. Bet you didn’t think bananas were so important! The people behind the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum do, however. This past weekend marked their third annual Banana Festival and as a fan of the super fruit I was looking forward to it. Visions of banana beer, banana nut bread and all things yellow danced in my head. As the car turned into William Land Park the sound of psychedelic funk music filled the air. Surprisingly it was very easy to find a parking space considering there were no other cars there.
As my “glass-half-full” philosophy brought me to the front gate, I paid my five dollar admission to the woman who was too lazy to get up and take my money. I had to walk into her tent with the makeshift ticket sign on wrinkled poster board to get to her. After rudely giving me my ticket I walked five feet and was bombarded with questions about how I heard about the festival, what I expected out of it and how I felt about it. Well, after being there for a few short minutes I felt like the exit was looking very appealing.
It was at this point that I looked around and realized…there were no bananas. No banana foods, no banana costumes, nothing the advertisement promised. I decided to take a lap around and check out the scene more closely. After walking past several vendors from Wells Fargo, chiropractors and homemade jewelry, I found myself in the kids section. Walking by the festival itinerary as I first arrived, I knew that there was supposed to be a magic show happening. As I approached the children’s stage, I saw nothing but props sitting up there. There were a few carnival type games set up and a few paper bananas hanging from fishing wire. Circling my way back towards the front I approached the food tents. Unless I was in the mood for seafood gumbo, shaved ice or lemonade, there was nothing for me. How is it possible to have an entire food section and have no bananas? The shaved ice didn’t even have the option for banana flavored syrup! I don’t believe that my expectations were set too high, I think it was a case of faulty advertising. Making my way back up to the front I came across the main stage where a chef challenge was taking place. Four contestants had to prepare whatever dish they’d like, as long as bananas were included. But as I’m standing there watching, I can hear a couple of the contestants complaining about how their dishes wouldn’t work and how soggy the bananas were. Something professionals should not be sharing with their audience.
Overall, the banana festival was a flop. As I made my exit, I felt disappointed. There was nothing to do, nothing to eat and nothing to see. All I did was spend five dollars to hear some cool music and take a walk. I did feel good knowing that my money would be put towards a good cause. All proceeds from the festival are redistributed to local non-profits to help their communities. So even though I gained nothing from the festival, I was still able to give back.
Words Rica Douglas