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Banana Split Festival

Submitted by on May 8, 2013 – 8:36 amNo Comment

ohio_wilmington_bananasplitYum! What could be more fun than a Banana Split Festival?

Always held on the second weekend in June, this year’s edition is June 7 and 8, 2013, in Wilmington, Ohio (map).

Here’s the backstory (who knew that the origins of the banana split were so contentious?):

In downtown Wilmington, Ohio, there used to be a restaurant called Hazard’s. The proprietor of the restaurant was Ernest Hazard.

Like most merchants in Wilmington today he wanted to find a way to attract the students of Wilmington College to come to his restaurant.

It was a very blustery winter in 1907, so business was slow and the employees didn’t have a whole lot of work to do. Hazard decided that a good way to get some business was to create a new dish that was so unique everyone would want to try it. So he offered to furnish unlimited ingredients to the employees and have a contest to see who could come up with the most unusual dish.

The winner of the contest was . . . Ernest Hazard. He took a long dessert dish, arranged a peeled banana and three scoops of ice cream in it, and added a shot of chocolate syrup, a little strawberry jam, and a few bits of pineapple. On top of this, he sprinkled some ground nuts, and garnished his invention with a mountain of whipped cream and placed two red cherries on its peak.

Now Hazard faced another dilemma. What would he name the dish? Some help was needed with this aspect of public relations, so Hazard enlisted the opinion of his cousin, Clifton Hazard.

Hazard made the concoction for Clifton and asked him to take a taste test. He then told him that he had an idea in mind for the name, a banana split. Upon hearing that, Clifton told him that he didn’t think that the name was one that would help him get any extra publicity. He didn’t think that anyone would ever walk in and ask for something called a banana split.

The name, however, is not the controversy. The origins of the banana split actually are a topic of debate in two neighboring states – Ohio and Pennsylvania. Was it Wilmington — or Latrobe, Pennsylvania?

The people of Wilmington came up with this solution: they created a festival for the banana split! Organizers even brought descendants of the dessert’s creator, Ernest Hazard, to the Banana Split Festival several years ago to recognize his role in influencing Americana.

Festival goers will still enjoy the many food booths, craft and collectible booths, a classic car cruise-in, games for the entire family and free entertainment. But the highlight for most will be the “build your own” banana split booth.

Here’s a “slice” of the festival:

The festival is organized by the Wilmington Rotary Club and the Wilmington A.M. Rotary Club. Net proceeds go to Clinton County Charities.

(Photo and video courtesy of the Banana Split Festival)

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