Banana Puddin' Festival, Y'all!
There's no shortage of festivals in Tennessee. Whether it's food and wine, music, or film, we've got them covered. However, when I heard the National Banana Pudding Festival was hosted less than an hour from my house, I knew a road trip was in order. Every time I have banana pudding, I am reminded of my Nanny and how she would often make this for our Sunday dinners because it was one of my Papa's favorite desserts. I would always steal a few of the Nilla wafers while she was whipping up the meringue. Seeing as this was a childhood favorite, I knew I couldn't go wrong.
The National Banana Pudding festival is always held the first weekend in October in the quaint town of Centerville, Tennessee at Centerville River Park. Parking is free and admission is only $5.00/person. If you choose to take a walk down the Puddin Path, that my friends is an additional $5.00. Seriously, total steal. The Puddin Path consists of 10 different variations of banana pudding made by local nonprofits. We wanted to arrive a little early as I had heard rumors that some of the best ones run out quickly. Tip: The path opens at 10:00AM. If you aren't one to stand in lines, I recommend arriving as close to 10:00AM as possible. We got there closer to 11:30AM and there was a considerable line and by the time we left, the line had tripled.
As I stood in line and took it all in, I was curious as to who comes to something like this. Was it crazy food bloggers like myself? Friends of the churches or just the locals? I was chatting with the woman in line and she drove from Athens, Alabama to come check out the festival. Dedication I tell you! As you enter the festival, the organizers ask if it's your first time and if so where you are from. I took this picture as I left ( close to 1:00pm) and it was interesting to see the states represented. Clearly the Southerners have a thing for puddin'.
Surprisingly, the line moved fairly quickly and into the tent we went. You are given a box with sections and numbers. Each of the numbers corresponded to a different non-profit's pudding. As we walked the path my eyes were filled with delight as these lovely little old ladies filled our boxes with sugary goodness. Just like that, we were finished. The gentleman at the end handed us silverware, napkins, and cartons of Prairie milk, just like you had in elementary school. Luckily, we were able to snag two seats in the National Banana Puddin' Cook-off auction, so we could enjoy the puddin' and see what all the fuss was about.
DAMN. My Nanny made some amazing banana pudding, but these people have some mad talent in the kitchen. From Moon Pies to Oreos and cheesecake to cinnamon rolls, each bite was more creative than the last.
I can't lie, it was difficult to finish all of them, but I gave it a valiant effort. I was looking for the perfect ratio of custard, banana, and Nilla wafers because you don't want it to be too soggy. There were certainly a few standouts and I am kicking myself that I didn't get a couple of the to-go containers, but I chalk it up to being an amateur. In order of favorite: Moon Pie Banana Puddin', Bell's Best Banana Puddin', and White Chocolate& Caramel Banana Puddin'.
So, pull out your 2017 calendar and mark down the National Banana Puddin' Festival. You won't want to miss it! See you there next year!