The Great Americana Banana Split Celebration is August 23-25, 2019 in Downtown Latrobe, PA — where the banana split was invented 115 years ago!
Welcoming Breweries to the Celebration
The last few months have been a refresher course in civics with some exciting things happening related to the Banana Split Celebration. My high school government teacher and Boy Scout Citizenship in the Community merit badge counselors would be proud. There are a few announcements coming in the following weeks from the county and state levels of government but today I want speak to a topic that has gained a lot of local attention lately.
Several times in the past, the celebration committee has been approached by breweries wanting to participate in the event. Each time we’ve considered what that might look like, the risks, and how it could add to the experience. The conversations have always said the addition of responsible beer and wine service would be an opportunity to attract more people to Latrobe and encourage them to stay longer to enjoy the event’s wide variety of games, activities, vendors, food, and free entertainment.
It’s no secret that craft breweries are a big, and still growing, industry in Pennsylvania. Each contributes to the economic impact of the local economy with jobs and taxes paid. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website listed that Westmoreland County alone has 16 active brewery licenses. Their participation enables us to celebrate their innovations and talents in brewing while also celebrating the innovative banana split sundae that Dr. Stickler created back in 1904.
When we were approached for this year’s event, we decided to investigate how an event (like ours) goes about offering alcohol. This has meant researching the law, contacting state senators, and talking to members of the state police. We asked questions of other event organizers, visited some of those events, and took advice from breweries who have set up at other festivals. After reviewing our insurance policies, reading through guidelines from other in/out-of-state festivals, and drafting our own plan, we were confident to present them to the city for consideration.
I’m pleased to say that Monday night, the city council for the City of Latrobe passed a resolution provisionally allowing the celebration to have the vendors we requested. It’s a major hurdle and we’ll continue working with representatives from the city to ensure we’re meeting the requirements council has set.
Personally, I want to thank City Manager Mike Gray and Chief of Police John Sleasman for their valuable insight and perspective. My thanks extends to the council members who asked questions about our plans and provided advice to make sure the citizens and guests coming into town are able to enjoy the event responsibly.
The planning committee is excited for this opportunity as we celebrate the banana split’s 115th birthday in 2019. I hope you’ll make plans to come enjoy, not just a drink, but all the activities happening the weekend of August 23-25 in downtown Latrobe.