BON AQUA, Tenn., Aug 06, 2011 -- More than 3,000 people from two countries, 23 states and 34 Tennessee counties descended on Hickman County in the fall of 2010 for the first-ever National Banana Pudding Festival. This year, local officials are hoping to shatter those record-breaking numbers as the festival gears up for year two of this sweet end-of-summer celebration.
While the main public event is still more than a month away, judging of banana pudding recipes from across the nation has already started. Nine recipes are being selected by a committee overseen by the five members of the NBPF cook-off committee. The selection committee reviews entries submitted from as far away as Oregon.
The judges for the competition this year were Maria Casto, Carolyn Chandler, Sam Gay, Michelle Hamm, Janie McClanahan and Faye Rodgers. They tasted more than seven entries before naming Reba Winters as the winner of the preliminary judging held today in Bon Aqua. Winters will join nine other entries and prepare to face the judges and the public in October.
During today's event, USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode announced a rural business grant of $5,000 to help cover the cost of marketing and promotion of the main event. Festival Chairman John Blackburn said the federal grant and $16,350 in local contributions and sponsorships will be used for festival infrastructure and marketing to draw more people to the festival this year.
Originally designed as a way for the local Red Cross to raise money for disasters in the area, the “southern comfort food” of banana pudding has become a hit with people from all over. This year, the all day, family-friendly event will take place at the Agricultural Pavilion and Fairgrounds in Grinder’s Switch, outside Centerville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011.
"Small businesses are the economic engines of rural communities, creating jobs and helping maintain a healthy, diversified local economy," said Goode. "Investments in signature events like this get multiplied through the revenue brought in by visitors and helps creates short term and long term job opportunities."
Grinders Switch is best known as the hometown of Grand Ole Opry character Minnie Pearl, brought to life by comedian Sarah Cannon who grew up in the County Seat of Centerville.
Others participating in the event included Rep. Scott DesJarlias’ Representative Cade Cothren.
Rural Development business programs help local governments and non-profit organizations improve local business infrastructure and promote job growth. Business loans provide needed financing for rural businesses and loan-guarantees are also available to help private lenders to increase the pool of investment capital available for business start-up, modernization and expansion in eligible rural areas.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.06 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan-guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in southeast Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Lawrenceburg at 931-762-6913 Ext. 4, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 ext. 1494 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA,
Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410,
or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397.