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Going bananas at William Land Park

Going bananas at William Land Park
Children’s limbo at the Sacramento Banana Festival

What recipes can you make with bananas? At the Sacramento Banana Festival guests had a choice of 20 delicacies made with this tropical fruit. Although I only had three samples – banana bread, banana pudding and my favorite, banana lumpias – there were many more options.

The Sacramento Banana Festival celebrated its fourth annual celebration at William Land Park on Aug. 10-11, 2013. An audience of 8,000 for the weekend was expected. Judging from the last few years that I’ve attended, this year’s event looked like it attracted more people than the anticipated crowd.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Patrick Riley Band at the Sacramento Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Banana wall of information at the 2013 Banana Festival

Each stage drew audiences to their performances and activities. The main stage was suited for the general audience, but geared its entertainment to the older audience. Entertainment on the main stage included the Patrick Riley Band, Dave R., a fashion show, Brazilian drum and dance by Samba Da Terra, the Latin Magic Band, Chains Required, The Inner Soul Band and the return of the Chef Challenge.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Dave R. performs at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
The Latin Magic Band performs at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Chef Challenge at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Vince Vicari asking a contestant a question during the Chef Challenge at the 2013 Banana Festival

A teen stage area also included music, dances and other performances. A graffiti exhibition featuring Anthony Padilla, Nick Pierce and others, as well as a kendama competition, also drew larger crowds to this stage. Impromptu events also took place during part of Saturday and Sunday.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Finishing touches on a graffiti wall created by Anthony Padilla, Nick Pierce and others

Metropolis Comix put on a kendama tournament for participants of all ages and skill levels. A kendama is a toy similar to a cup-and-ball and the balero (the name varies in many Spanish-speaking countries). John Wayne Stevens, Metropolis Comix marketing director, noted that kendama came to Japan in the 1700s via France.

“Metropolis is the number-one kendama store in the U.S. And we’re located at 8241 Bruceville Road in Elk Grove,” said Stevens, when asked to describe their shop. Stevens continued, “We work in our community and reach out to schools. We put together tournaments in schools and during Second Saturdays.”

Going bananas at William Land Park
Metropolis Comix booth at the 2013 Banana Festival

Metropolis has been open four and a half years, and Stevens noted that they’re the number-one comic store and card-game store in Sacramento. They will attend SacAnime, held during Memorial Day weekend.

Christopher Neary, the owner, shared his passion for Metropolis Comix, noting that he bought into the store on June 1, 2009, and has tried to become involved in the community they serve.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Kendama contest winners showing their style
Going bananas at William Land Park
Kendama competition winner at the 2013 Banana Festival

“We go out into the community, schools, and hold clinics. As we reach out to the community and educational sites we try to show how the kendama discipline can be used in school and life,” Neary said.

“We’ve noticed that bullying has gone down in areas that we return to visit as students get together and come together using kendama as a positive influence. This common ground where all students take part we’ve been told that incidents of bullying has decreased,” Neary said.

A positive outlook has been at the heart of the Sacramento Banana Festival. Poet Frank Withrow preaches respect, community service and love for family. His poems are inspiring and deliver positive messages.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Poet Frank Withrow performs at the 2013 Banana Festival

Besides delivering positive messages, a sound environment, positive lifestyles and healthy eating were also part of celebrating the festival. Stations throughout the festival delivered information on healthy living for all family members.

This affordable ($5 entrance fee for ages 8 or older) brought many young and old to the Banana Festival. The Banana Jungle stage drew the youngest audience and their parents. Magic shows by the magician known as Magic Forrest, a banana-split ice cream contests and banana limbo brought kids to the this stage. Audience participation also allowed children (and their parents) to take part on these and other activities.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Magician Magic Forrest performs at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Banana-split ice cream contest at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Banana-split ice cream contest at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Rappin Ratz perform at the 2013 Banana Festival
Going bananas at William Land Park
Umoja African Dance performsat the 2013 Banana Festival

A highlight of the festival was that many nonprofits came together to deliver community programs and information to guests who visited their tables. This collaboration brought together a dozen local nonprofits, who were assisted in their community fund raising efforts.

Carnival-type rides and games kept the younger guests occupied and happy. A face-painting station operated by Kimberlee Klein Wilson was busy throughout the weekend. Wilson noted that the best part of her face painting was the moment when she held up the mirror to the child’s face and watched their reaction when they first beheld their painted face.

Going bananas at William Land Park
Face painter and animal balloon maker Kimberlee Klein Wilson
Going bananas at William Land Park
Happy face painting customers
Going bananas at William Land Park
Mother and child at a music hands-on event
Going bananas at William Land Park
Little Miss and Mr. Banana pageant contestant
Going bananas at William Land Park
Visitors hop on one of two wooden horses mad by The Flashing Scotsman

Fashion was part of the festival again this year, as banana-inspired hair designs by BIA Salon "The Apeeling Hair Show" were paraded on the main stage. Richard K. Pannell, chef, director and choreographer, helped to deliver the fashion show on Saturday, and was also involved in the ever-popular Chef Challenge on Sunday.

Going bananas at William Land Park
BIA Salon applying last minute hair and makeup before The Apeeling Hair Show
Going bananas at William Land Park
Richard Pannell goes over runway strategy
Going bananas at William Land Park
Model Brieanna Smith
Going bananas at William Land Park
The Appeling Hair Show models
Going bananas at William Land Park
Models and BIA stylist posing for after show photos

Marlett Berry had a booth the second day of the festival promoting the upcoming “Hair & Fashion Battle. Salons VS Designer,” which promotes fashion designs and hair styles from local fashionistas.

Going bananas at William Land Park
The Circle of Models’ Alexandria Wilson posing at the Marlett Berry booth highlighting the Hair & Fashion Battle Expo

Festival volunteers were very helpful as they managed the exhibits, games and stages, making things move smoothly.

With so many activities, arts, vendors, entertainment and games, only a two-day festival can accommodate guests and its program. If the current popularity of the event continues to grow, the festival can stay at its current venue – it would just need to increase the space used.

Michael Romero enjoyed his visit and said, “This is our third year at the Banana Festival and each year I bring more family members to the event. The kids love the rides and we just love trying different banana-inspired dishes. I wish they had banana beer. Is there such a thing? Anyway, my wife dragged me the first year but now I look forward to the event every year.” 

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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