Organizers of this year’s Melita Banana Days hope that residents and visitors will find the event even more ap-peel-ing than in years past.

Last year, more than 8,000 people attended the festival, which is held annually in Melita, located 113 kilometres southwest of Brandon. It was the first festival held since the COVID-19 pandemic ground events to a halt.

“It was the best attended festival we’ve had in 10 years,” said Kelly Lewis, one of the event’s organizers. “It was really well attended.”

This year’s event — to be held Aug. 11-13 — will have fun for the whole family, including a drone light show, laser tag, bouncy castles, live entertainment and more.

Kids wristbands that are good for the entire weekend are $10, which grants children access to the bouncy castles, Canada’s largest inflatable air-hockey table, and other games, but there are free events too, Lewis said.

“On Saturday morning, all our bouncers are free. Anybody can come and enjoy those. We do free banana splits, and one thing that is new this year is we have a barrel train ride — the kids can jump on there and get a tour around the park to see all the different events going on.”

Things kick off on Friday when the Melita branch of the Southwestern Manitoba Regional Library hosts a book sale. The golf club will host a tournament that day, and the carnival will run from 4 to 8 p.m.

“There’s a ton to check out that evening,” Lewis said.

Throughout the weekend, visitors will get the chance to play archery tag, take part in a tug-of-warm competition, and enjoy cooling off in the beer gardens. Musicians that will perform at Banana Days include Inferno, Quinton Blair and more.

This year the drone show is replacing traditional fireworks, Lewis said.

“It’s pretty neat. They’re a company out of Selkirk who does a co-ordinated drone light show … played to music and everything.”

On Saturday, more games will be available, including a kid’s fishing pong game. A barbecue will satisfy hungry festivalgoers, and there’ll be butterfly yoga at River Park. Saturday will also feature a small ferris wheel, horse rides, a petting zoo, henna tattoo booths and more. A reptile rescue is also coming to the event, so anyone interested in learning more about the animals will have the chance to get up close and personal with them.

Saturday evening’s entertainment includes a circus show and headliner Quinton Blair, a country singer from Landmark.

“We’re pretty excited to have a Manitoba artist in there,” Lewis said.

A pancake breakfast will tempt people back to the event on Sunday. That day will also feature a slo-pitch tournament, a car show, and a duck dive at the pool.

Lewis said people from Melita and elsewhere are looking forward to this year’s event, getting in touch with committee members and asking to find out more about it.

“We have lots of people that say they’re coming. They already committed to it,” she said. “People are excited and looking forward to some of the things we’ve advertised.”

Kyle Gilson and his family were so impressed by Banana Days last year and the community of Melita that they decided to relocate there from Winnipeg. His father had already moved to the area from Victoria, B.C. the previous April.

A Class 1 driver, Gilson knew he could work from anywhere in the province, but felt that Melita was the right place for his family.

“We were pretty impressed with it, and so we made a commitment to come down to Banana Days … and we loved it,” he said.

Melita reminded Gilson of the quiet suburb in Winnipeg where he grew up.

“It was almost like a time capsule of my primary school years,” he said.

As Gilson and his wife walked the streets of Melita, they quickly envisioned themselves living in the community. Last August, they made their move and settled into a slower pace of life.

Looking back on his family’s decision, Gilson said the entire community of Melita was appealing but there was something special about Banana Days that sealed the deal for them.

“It was honestly Banana Days that probably sold us on it,” he said.

And even though it has taken the family time to adjust to small-town living after living in Winnipeg, Gilson said they wouldn’t change a thing.

“There’s no regrets,” he said.

Gilson and his family are excitedly looking forward to next month’s Banana Days. He recommends the event to all Manitobans who are curious to know what the community of Melita has to offer.

“Melita, or anywhere in rural Manitoba right now, is the place to be,” he said. “The community is great.”

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 20, 2023 at 07:17

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated