On Thursday, April 18, I was one of the lucky members of the Melita Banana Days Committee that was able to travel to the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg to be recognized for the upcoming 10th Melita Banana Days Festival, August 9-11, 2019. Also representing the Committee was Camiel Serruys, Danielle Serruys and Kelly Lewis. After an early morning drive to the city, the group was met by Shawna Smith, Constituency Assistant, at the doors of the Legislative Building, and then taken to Doyle Piwniuk’s, MLA Arthur-Virden, office. After introductions with Doyle, we were also introduced to Blaine Pederson, Minister of Growth, Enterprise & Trade. Pederson was very interested in learning more about our Festival, the different activities that we hold and even made a short video with our Committee to post on his social media to help promote the Festival.
We were supplied with a delicious lunch at the Legislative Building, where Cathy Cox, Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage, joined us and asked questions about our upcoming festival and also made a short video for her social media. Following lunch, our group was taken to the Gallery, where we were able to sit in on Private Member Statements and Question Period.
During his Private Member Statement, MLA Doyle Piwniuk recognized the Banana Days Committee stating “You may have heard of Melita, MB, but have you heard about their statue? The world’s largest free standing 9-metre tall banana holding a blue jay in its hands is located in the heartland of the Banana Belt, the name the Manitoba Agro-Meteorologist gave Melita area many years ago. Their names are Sunny, the Banana, and Breezy, the Blud Jay. While the Banana symbolizes Melita’s warm temperatures, Breezy the Blue Jay reminds us that Melita is also the Grassland Bird Capital of Manitoba.
The root of the Banana goes back to 2007 when the Tourist Committee began brainstorming new ideas to bring people to the community, located 33 kms north of the US border and 37 kms south of the Saskatchewan border. The unveiling of Sunny and Breezy was the beginning of the Melita Banana Days Festival. The Festival is held during the second weekend in August. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Melita Banana Days. The weekend impacts the events of activities for the whole family from book sales to tea parties to building bird houses in the park, barbecues, horseback riding, reptile gardens, games, live music, fireworks and many more activities. The Festival could not have happened without the dedications of the volunteers working diligently behind the scenes. Today I would like to welcome the Melita Banana Days Committee sitting in the Gallery. This crew works all year planning the Festival in order to promote their hometown. To see their hard work, be sure to check out the Melita Banana Days facebook and instagram. Banana Days Crew, your hardwork and dedication is not unnoticed, thank you very much and everyone, please give them a hand.”
Following the Private Member Statements and Question Period, we were able to have a tour of the Legislative Building, including a behind the scenes tour of a Minister office from Cliff Cullen, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Our group had such a great time at the Legislative Building, and we were honoured to be mentioned in Doyle Piwniuk’s Private Member Statement. When asked about the day, President of the Melita Banana Days Committee, Camiel Serruys, said, “What an honour to be recognized for 10 years of service. Team Banana is a diverse group and we have a blast, so when it comes to volunteering, it’s easy for us. Walking in was overwhelming as I haven’t been there before, it’s truly stunning. Getting to sit in on the Question Period was also a great experience. My favourite was the back and forth heckling. Having the chance to have lunch with Doyle and Cathy Cox was great and being able to share stories and talk tourism was fabulous. Overall just being asked to attend and visit was an honour but actually having the chance to go was something I will never forget. If you ever have the chance to go, please make sure you do. It’s an experience you won’t forget. Of course, it was Team Banana that was being honoured but let’s be real, it’s the hundreds of volunteers along with the thousands of dollars in sponsorship and grants and, of course, the people for coming out to the Festival whom need to be awarded, praised and thanked for making it what it is. Melita is so very lucky to host such a big time Festival”.
It truly was a great experience for everyone involved and the Melita Banana Days Committee is very thankful to Doyle Piwniuk for inviting us. Be sure to head on down to Melita for our 10th Melita Banana Days Festival - the biggest one yet - August 9-11, 2019.