WILMINGTON — Your helping of banana split will be a lot bigger and tastier this year — maybe not in ice cream and toppings, but definitely in music and much more.
The 2019 Banana Split Festival at J.W. Denver Williams Memorial Park will celebrate both the birthplace of the banana split — some will debate that, but is there really any doubt? — with a very musical celebration of the event’s 25th year.
This weekend’s festival is a bit like a banana split itself — the base recipe, but with much added to make it more flavorful.
A lot has been invested in this year’s festival, especially with the revamped community stage combined with the many musical acts booked to perform, said Susan Valentine-Scott, Executive Director of the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The biggest thing is the facelift that we’ve done with the re-branding and the 25th-year excitement that it’s bringing,” she said, adding that many aspects of past festivals have been “changed up and refreshed.”
This year’s event features good old-fashioned fun with games and rides for everyone, crafts and collectibles, live music, a classic car cruise-in and car show, unique food booths, a banana split-eating contest and, of course, the “make your own” banana split booth.
Saturday will begin with the annual Heather’s Hope Lickety-Split 5K, with all proceeds benefiting the Heather’s Hope Diabetes Foundation to help those afflicted in Clinton County.
Highlights of the schedule include:
Friday, June 7
4 p.m., Festival opens — Featuring car show, craft vendors, rides, games, and food & commercial vendors
5:30 p.m., Opening ceremony
5:45-7:45 p.m., Live music — Blue Steel: Classic-rock band from the ’70s and ’80s (thebluesteelband.com)
8-10 p.m., Live music — PASSION: Rock, pop, country, dance, oldies and more (passionmusicgroup.com)
A fireworks show will follow in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Banana Split Festival
Saturday, June 8
8-9 a.m., 5K run registration
9 a.m., Annual Heather’s Hope Lickety-Split 5K
10 a.m., Festival opens — Featuring car show, craft vendors, rides, games, and food & commercial vendors
12:30-2 p.m., Live music — Flashback Band: Six-piece classic rock/dance band (Facebook: “Flashback Band”)
2-3 p.m., Remy & Friends Show: Ron Remy with interactive visual performance skills including ventriloquism, juggling and illusions (remyandfriends.com)
3 p.m., Banana Split Eating Contest
3-4 p.m., Live music — The HitchHikers Band: Tradition music from Celtic to Civil War (Facebook: @HitchHikersband2”)
4-4:45 p.m., Live music — Ben Schaad and George Carrington
4:45-5 p.m., Car show awards
5-6:45 p.m., Live music — Hadden Sayers Band (haddensayers.com)
7-8:15 p.m., Live music — The McCartney Project (themccartneyproject.com)
8:30-10 p.m., Live music — The Babys (thebabysofficial.com)
The festival is dependent upon the help and support of many local companies, organizations and individuals. Sponsors for this year’s event include:
• Top Bananas — American Legion Wilmington Veterans Post 49; Clinton County CVB; Ahresty; Ferno; TimberTech; Clinton Memorial Hospital; Wilmington Savings Bank
• Big Dippers Sponsors — Ace Hardware, Wilmington; Air Transport Services Group (ATSG); Clinton County Port Authority; Fyffes Bananas; Generations Pizza; Graphics To Go; Service Master; Sewell Motor Express
• Whipped Cream Toppers — Hampton Inn; Liberty Bank; Merchants Bank; Peoples Bank; Trico Title; Wendy’s
• Cherry Topper Sponsors — Dennis & Williams Law; First Central Land Title; Peelle Law Offices
• Patrons — Carrie Ziegler State Farm Insurance; Chris Stromberg Inc.; R+L Carriers.