Minnie Pearlâ€TMs Hometown Goes Bananas over Annual Festival

For decades, Centerville, Tennessee, has made its reputation as the birthplace of famed country comedienne Minnie Pearl. For the last four years, itâ€TMs been known for perhaps the only thing the South could love more: banana pudding.

That the banana could elbow its way into town lore is no small feat, considering Centerville features Pearlâ€TMs picture on its official website, as well as banners throughout the heart of downtown. But in 2009 a small group of Red Cross volunteers brainstormed a way to raise money for local disaster relief. And as these volunteers thought through the things the Hickman County community would rally around, one magical idea arose—a uniting force to bring people together under the banner of Nilla Wafers, evaporated milk, and meringue: the National Banana Pudding Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the annual October event has all the trappings of a quality Tennessee festival—arts and crafts, childrenâ€TMs activities, live music, an auction—but lest it seem like he National Banana Pudding Festival is your average, everyday fruit-honoring fête, consider for a moment the power that can emerge in merely two words.

We can thank these men and women—for they invented the “Puddinâ€TM Path.”

The Puddinâ€TM Path is practically Centervilleâ€TMs own Journey of Enlightenment. For $3, festival attendees receive a cardboard tray and the opportunity to sample eight different versions of banana pudding from various non-profit organizations. Though it would be forgivable for attendees to finish their journey proclaiming the inevitable “Grandmaâ€TMs was better,” there is little doubt that the opportunity to walk something called the Puddinâ€TM Path can change lives.

It certainly can change a community. The festival has grown every year, now requiring more than 125 volunteers and bringing in much-needed money that goes directly to help local families who have suffered fires or other natural disasters.

This yearâ€TMs festival will be held October 5th and 6th in Centerville River Park, about sixty miles west of Nashville. For more information, including directions, hours, and an event schedule, as well as how to enter next yearâ€TMs Banana Pudding Cook-Off or the Miss Banana Pudding Pageant, visit bananapuddingfest.org.