A pudding cook-off, pudding eating along the Puddin’ Path, a craft village and live music are sure to keep everyone entertained and their sweet tooth sated during the 14th annual National Banana Pudding Competition in Centerville, Tennessee at the Hickman County Ag Pavilion on October 7 and 8, 2023. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday on Mable’s Front Porch Stage. Last year almost 10,000 visited the event, coming from more than 30 states and four countries.
Contestants from around the country will go head to head to decide who makes the best banana pudding. As the contestants get going with the pudding competition, Ziggy and AJ will begin performing on the Arena Stage at 10:30 a.m. Between 11:15 a.m. and noon will be the Cook-off Auction. Prize winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m.
Banana Pudding, that famous Southern dessert, is in fact not from the South at all. The dessert was first mentioned in “The New York Times” in 1878. And Nilla Vanilla wafers weren’t a part of the recipe until the 1920s. The baked variety became a Southern potluck staple in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Today, it is seen as the ultimate Southern dessert.
Last year’s first place winner was Chris Swift from Brentwood, Tennessee with a recipe called “Not your Nana’s Nanner Puddin.” He took home a $2,000.00 grand prize and bragging rights to the best banana pudding in America in 2022. Second place went to Connie Pegg from Asheville, North Carolina for her “Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding with Candied Walnuts.” Terri Parker of Providence, Kentucky won third place with her “Picnic Banana Pudding.”
“The main attraction [after the bake-off] at the festival is always the Puddin’ Path,” says the event’s website, “where you sample many different flavors and styles of banana pudding.” Each of these recipes is created and served by volunteers from one of the area’s non-profit organizations. For just $10, anyone can fill their sampler tray with up to 9 different, delicious banana puddings. Favorites are for sale by the container.
Live music will be performed throughout the two days by Ziggy and AJ, Muletown Stompers, Ramblin’ Souls, Daniel Bey Indian Tales, Billy Lord Band, The Waymasters, Nick Bentley, and Brand & Brooks.
There will be a village of more than 100 vendor booths offering everything from the best handcrafts to demonstrations to some of the best southern comfort food.
A Little ‘Nanners Kids’ Area has rides and activities for the small fry, and there is Banana Land for older kids. Also for the kiddies will be the Runaway Puppet theater on Sunday.
The festival got started in 2010 when a group of community volunteers were looking for a way to raise money for local charities that helped victims of disasters, fires, tornadoes and floods. They decided to create The National Banana Pudding Festival, and the festival has become a non-profit created to continue on the mission of raising money for local charities. It has been growing every year. And a cookbook with recipes from the 2010 to 2014 festivals is available to enjoy the tasty dessert all year around.
“This festival is about showing warm hospitality,” said one of the festival’s committee members.
The National Banana Pudding Festival will take place at the Hickman Ag Pavilion in Centerville, Tennessee near the Grinder’s Switch Railway Station. The hours of the event are Saturday, October 7, 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 8, 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids five to 12, $10 for the Pudding Path, and $7 for “Puddin’ to Go” boxes. Additional information is available at phone (931) 994-6273, or by email at [email protected].