published Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Chattanooga: Museum visitors go ape over Banana Day


by Laura Galbraith
  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Linda Kim takes a break with her daughter, Maddie Kim, 4, and her 10-month-old son, Christopher Kim, during a Curious George themed day at the Creative Discovery Museum.

Children, parents and even museum employees went bananas Saturday for the first ever Banana Day at the Creative Discovery Museum.

The daylong event was in celebration of the museum’s most recent exhibit, “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious.”

“When you think of George, you think about bananas,” said Dr. Jayne Griffin, the director of education at the Creative Discovery Museum.

A number of activities were dedicated to the tropical fruit, including an arts and crafts area where kids could construct and color their own banana hat.

The creativity continued upstairs where kids measured their height with bananas.

However, although George gathered plenty of attention from youngsters as he walked around the museum, the focus was primarily on six area restaurants.

Attendees were encouraged to bring their appetites as they got to sample banana pudding recipes from Hillbilly Willy’s BBQ Catering, Jenkins Country Style Buffet, Murphy’s Eatz and Sweetz, Purple Daisy, Southern Star and Shuford’s Smokehouse.

“What could be more Southern or more child friendly, really, than banana pudding? You got bananas, pudding and vanilla wafers,” Dr. Griffin said. “Those are things that kids just love.”

Visitors also were allowed to vote for their favorite recipe.

Murphy Eller, owner of Murphy’s Eatz and Sweetz, said he was honored when the museum asked him to be part of the competition.

“Really, to be honest, I’m just glad to be down here,” Mr. Eller said. “We’ve only been open a year, so it’s great to be recognized for what little bit of time we’ve been open.”

Mr. Eller even brought two kinds of banana pudding, Oreo and regular.

“People love it, and banana pudding is a Southern tradition dessert,” he said. “When you do a Southern cooking restaurant, you have to have banana pudding.”

Naturally, every visitor had his or her own personal preference when it came to selecting a winner.

“We’ve tasted several of the banana puddings, and we picked the Hillbilly Willy’s,” said Darrl Lowery, of Knoxville. “We chose them as our winner.”

Mr. Lowery brought along his two granddaughters, Jayla, 9, and Jaylyn, 5, both of whom participated in the many special games and activities at the Curious George exhibit.

At 3:15 p.m., the total votes were counted and organizers were ready to announce the winner.

According to Liza Blair, the museum’s Arts Manager, the results were very tight.

“All six (restaurants) have many fans,” she said.

In the end, however, Tony and Lisa Davis, owners of the Purple Daisy in St. Elmo, were announced the winners and given a plaque and crown decorated with bananas.

The Curious George exhibit will be at the museum through Sept. 27.

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