Melita was dubbed the Banana Capital of Manitoba by Manitoba Agro-Meteorologists because it is usually the warmest spot in the province. The town took the moniker as its very own by creating the Banana Days festival.
The bananas are, of course, symbolic. “Even (though) we we are the hot spot of Manitoba usually, we do still live in Manitoba,” Camiel Serruys, Banana Days president, says.
Nonetheless, the citizens decided to build a statue, Sunny the Banana. Out of that came Banana Days, now in its ninth year.
The festival is a three-day event that features music, free children’s entertainment, a carnival, beer gardens, horse riding, a mud bog (ATVs competing in a field of mud), volleyball and golf tournaments and much, much more.
New this year is a mobile escape room under a tent, a second petting zoo to accommodate the growing attendance, and of course the entertainment, this year featuring country artist Jerry Sereda.
And there are even free banana splits at the opening festivities!
The festival is part of a commitment to Melita by volunteers from the Melita and Area Tourism committee. For a town of less than 1,000 people, there are 6,000 people during the festival, according to Serruys.
“Most of the visitors are from Manitoba,
but we draw from Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and even many from the U.S.,” Serruys says.
The festival is also a venue for citizens and former citizens of Melita.
“We are host for so many family reunions and school reunions each year, as the entire weekend is already planned for them, (it's) truly a great weekend for everyone to come home.”
The committee works hard to put on the festival because of their love for their town, which Serruys says has that “southwestern Manitoba charm.”
“Each year when you see it growing, when you see those kids coming giving you the high fives, parents taking so many pictures around here and thanking us for making memories for their families, that’s why we do it, that’s why we’re so passionate about it, creating and making memories for families for years to come.”
Published in Volume 72, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 31, 2018)