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Nearly 4,000 festival-goers had the chance to taste everything banana last weekend: banana pancakes, bread, pudding, cookies and even banana-flavored ice cream, all while contributing to the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum at Sacramento’s inaugural banana festival.
Held at Cosumnes River College Friday through Sunday, the festival educated the community on banana health benefits, said Shonna McDaniels, the museum’s director.
“We wanted to bring the concept of the banana and how different cultures use and prepare the banana and educate the community,” McDaniels said.
Those various cultures included the Caribbean and countries in Asia, the Americas and Africa.
In conjunction with the National Academic Youth Corps, the banana festival originated from the concept of the SOJO Fine Arts Festival, McDaniels said.
“The previous festival has always celebrated family, community, diversity, art and culture,” she said. “This is just an extension of that. We added health and wellness with the arts to the banana festival.”
Festival highlights besides the various banana-related foods included free bananas, tropical banana drinks, a chef banana challenge, local musical artists, a children’s corner and an art exhibition.
The art exhibition displayed visual arts from the multicultural museum as well as local artists. Children’s work was also on display, most depicted banana or fruit-related art.
At the children’s corner, young people were able to participate in an arts and crafts section, painting on easels or help paint in a drawing that featured tropical birds and of course, bananas.
Kids also could meet Miss Teen Vacaville on Sunday as well as participate in one of the banana festival pageants. Categories ranged from “Baby Banana” for 0-23 months, to the “Miss/Mister Banana,” ages 13-17. Winners received a crown and trophy.
McDaniels said one of the highlights of the festival was the chef competition where local professional chefs and youth joined forces for a banana cook-off.
Children could also make their own banana splits and plant banana seeds at the festival to take home.
The Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum has been serving the community for 20 years, McDaniels said. The museum, a nonprofit located at 2251 Florin Rd. holds more than 4,000 square feet of murals from many cultures.
“It became an educational tool for schools. We get about four schools a month for educational tours,” she said.
The festival had over 100 volunteers – most from high school key clubs in Sacramento. The museum itself is run by volunteers only, McDaniels said.
For more information on the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum, visit sojoarts.net.
Photos by Stephanie Bouret.