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Latrobe again plays host to Great American Banana Split Celebration

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Dole
A scene from the 2013 Banana Split Festival in Latrobe
Ryan Wagner
Souvenirs from the 2013 Banana Split Festival
Ryan Wagner
Appetizers at the 2013 Banana Split Festival

Banana-split lovers will be able to get their fill this week at the second annual Great American Banana Split Celebration in downtown Latrobe. The dessert was invented in the city in 1904 by Dr. David Strickler at Tassel Pharmacy.

“There will be something for everyone each and every day,” Latrobe mayor Rosie Moff Wolford says. “It's sure to be a delicious time!”

The official Great American Banana Split Celebration begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 with brief opening ceremonies in front of the banana-split historical marker on Ligonier Street, followed by a Yellow Tie Gala from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ligonier Street event tent, sponsored by Latrobe Art Center. The gala features music by the WCCC Jazz Band, a DIY banana-split bar and cupcake samples from the winner of the Latrobe Cupcake Wars. Tickets are $50.

Activities on Aug. 23 begin with a Banana Breakfast Bar at the Ligonier Street event tent ($15) and a banana baking contest (pre-registration required) at the Quatrini Rafferty Building.

The day of free events will include a craft and vendor show, food booths including banana splits from Dairy Queen and Valley Dairy, the Rotary Family Stroll, car show, children's activities, an appearance by the Mr. Rogers Trolley and a free concert by contemporary worship band Stars Burn Down. A Malt Shop Sock Hop caps off the evening with dancing and fun.

Dole Fresh Fruit will provide thousands of bananas for the event. At its “Banana Cabana,” the company will hand out bananas and T-shirts and offer recipes for healthy versions of banana splits.

“Dole is proud to have helped set up the inaugural event last year, and they're proud to participate again this year,” Dole spokesman Collin Whitley says.

Jarod Trunzo, interim executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, looks forward to continuing the success of last year's inaugural celebration.

“It's a great family-friendly event,” he says. “We're really grateful to partner with Dole again and with the community as this event grows.”

The festival is “a unique way to celebrate Latrobe's history. It's a very special event,” says Ryan Wagner, marketing intern at Latrobe Art Center, which will host numerous banana-split activities before and during the celebration.

On Aug. 20, children can participate in the center's Gone Bananas Painting Workshop from 10 a.m. to noon. Youngsters will draw and paint a banana split and then make a real one to eat for $15. Adults can follow suit from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 21 at Pop the Cork Night, which also includes a banana-split bar. Participants can bring a bottle of wine to enjoy while they learn to paint. Cost is $35.

Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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