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2012 Banana Festival

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Pop art at the 2012 Banana Festival

The Sacramento Banana Festival returned to William Land Park this past weekend for the third time. This year’s theme was Bananarama. Dozens of performances took place during the two-day festival celebrating community involvement, art, music, food, diversity, health, wellness, culture and of course, bananas.

Music and dance at the 2012 Banana Festival

Two acts performed simultaneously throughout both days. In between the two stages, the Children’s Stage and the Main Stage, an open air marketplace housed vendors, informational booths and a food court that offered an assortment of banana and other dishes.

Jodama dancer at the 2012 Banana Festival

This year’s hosts were poet, Frank Withrow, and former News 10 reporter, Karen Massie. The hosts kept things moving at the main stage and were full of inspirational messages.

Frank Withdrow with Banana Festival Queen contestants Tyniece Hall and Jade Ross

Local chef Richard Pannell brought a comedic blend to the show and also presided over the chef challenge and other events. For cooking enthusiasts a chef’s challenge was held featuring several of Sacramento’s finest chefs. The “Smashed Challenge” was very popular and showed several novel ways of cooking or using bananas in flavorful dishes.

Cef Richard Pannell and general Produce Company’s David John III at the 2012 Banana Festival

The children’s area included rides, jump houses, games, educational exhibits and a children’s stage featuring educational and fun performances. Dance, music, magic, storytelling and other fun activities kept the audience entertained.

The Children’s Stage featured acts like Rappin Ratz, an adorable rap group in rat costumes rapping positive and safety messages for children. As with many of the performers on the Children’s Stage, audience participation made faces light up.

Rappin Ratz at the 2012 Banana Festival

The Banana Slug String Band from Santa Cruz graced the Children’s Stage several times throughout the weekend. The band promotes conservation and the importance of math and science. The Banana Slug String Band also encourages support for music appreciation, building children’s self esteem and other positive community qualities.

Banana Slug String Band at the 2012 Banana Festival

In fostering positive attitudes the Banana Slug String Band played wonderful music. Their performances included one of my favorites, “Dirt Made My Lunch.”

The Banana Festival is hosted by the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum and its founding director, Shonna McDaniels. Event organizers would like for the Banana Festival to be a catalyst to support local non-profit organizations in their efforts to benefit the Sacramento community. In striving to achieve this goal the festival collaborated with several local non-profits to assist them in their fundraising efforts.

Lil’ dancer at the 2012 Banana Festival

The Main Stage had dozens of performers filling the two-day event, bringing the audience to its feet and to the dance floor in a shady area in front of the stage. Acts included the Ras D Reggae Band, Umoja Productions, Tina B. Soul Line Dancers, Fenix Drum, Jodama African Dance, Ital Reggae Band & Urban Fire, the Latin Magic Band, Obsidian Butterfly Silk Dancers and others.

Ras D Reggae Band at at the 2012 Banana Festival
Umoja Productions at the 2012 Banana Festival

Tina B. Soul Line Dancers at the 2012 Banana Festival
2012 Banana Festival
Jadoma African Dancers at the 2012 Banana Festival
The Mighty Ital Reggae Band & Urban Fire at the 2012 Banana Festival
Latin Magic Band at the 2012 Banana Festival
Obsidian Butterfly Silk Dancers at the 2012 Banana Festival

Several groups returned from last year’s festival and delighted the audience with their colorful performances.

Marie Clark has brought her family to the event for the past three years. When asked what keeps her coming back Clark said, “The first year I went because I was helping one of my friends who had a booth. I fell in love with the event and when the festival moved to Land Park, which is closer to home, I brought my kids. We look forward to trying new dishes, learning about other cultures and meeting other people from our community. I love it because we get to see Brazilian, Polynesian, Latin, European, African and other cultural performances. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.”

Samba de Terra Brazilian dancers at the 2012 Banana Festival

A new Banana Festival Queen was also coronated. The two finalists had a very close contest, with Tyniece Hall and Jade Ross vying for the banana crown. Last year’s winner, Marisa Adams, crowned Hall as the 2012 Banana Festival Queen.

Last year’s Banana Festival Queen Marisa Adams with contestants Tyniece Hall and Jade Ross (Hall won this year).

Last weekend I attended the Fire Spectacular where I saw several fire dancing groups. The main act at that event was Obsidian Butterfly, who brought another aspect of their performances to the Banana Festival stage. Their daylight spectacular was nonetheless just as entertaining and enjoyable.

Obsidian Butterfly’s Sequoia Jennifer Dawn at the 2012 Banana Festival

The International Academy of Design &Technology (IADT) brought a fashion show to the Main Stage. The IADT student fashion showcase showed designs by Eshonna Trice, Jasmine Sewell, Stephanie Harris, John Thao and others.

IADT Fashion Designs at the 2012 Banana Festival

Sharon Sutherland provided wonderful jewelry designs for models to wear which accentuated the designer’s work. Several hair and makeup artists applied their stunning art to the models. Overall, more than 30 models, hair and makeup artists, designers, students and mentors participated in the fashion event. An IADT booth offered information about the many programs offered at the academy.

Last minute inside the IADT changing area at the 2012 Banana Festival

The Banana Festival provided a great community event to celebrate community, culture, health, dance, fashion, music and much more. Besides festive activities and performances, the Banana Festival also provides an educational scholarship for a community youth demonstrating exceptional artistic talent. This year’s scholarship winner was Faison Jackson. Jackson is 21 years old and is currently a Senior at Clark Atlanta University studying Biology.


More photos of the 2012 Banana Festival can be found here.

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