Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Banana Festival Returns!

Fans of our story But That Wasn't The Best Part may recall that the 30th and last Festival was held in Fulton, KY, and South Fulton, TN, in September of 1992, The two communities used other themes in following years, but none were as popular as the Banana Festival. The theme has been revived and this year is the 50th anniversary of the very first Banana Festival. 

Fulton and South Fulton served as a railroad distribution point for bananas for many years. Shipment would arrive from Gulf ports and be sent off in different directions throughout the country. 

I heard about the festival on National Public Radio in 1991 and vowed to attend the following year. In 1992 Susan and I and our son Michael drove to Fulton to see the big parade and taste the giant banana pudding. We had a great time (and the pudding was good!). 

The parade was longer and more fun than we expected. It inspired me to write and illustrate But That Wasn't The Best Part a couple of years later. After a few impatient submissions to children's book publishers, I published the story on Meddybemps.com. Since then, I added a Spanish-language version and worked with Toni and Jacob Rhodes to create apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad.

The story has been read and enjoyed by countless children around the world since it first appeared online in 1995. It's simple and fun. Young children enjoy reciting the refrain as each parade entrant passes by, eager for the one-ton banana pudding to arrive for all to share. It's a good story for beginning readers.

This year's festival events began last Friday and conclude with the famous parade and a concert Saturday, September 29. For more information, see the Banana Festival website at www.thebananafestival.com/home. Check the site in coming months to learn the dates for next year's festival. You should go.

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