Local News

2023 Jacaranda King Toby Power (L) inspired Caleb Foster (R) to nominate as a Junior Jacaranda candidate this year after he was crowned during the 2023 Grafton Jacaranda Festival. Image: Emma Pritchard

Crowning moment for aspiring candidates

Emma Pritchard


While the countdown to the 90th Grafton Jacaranda Festival gets underway, the enthusiasm and excitement amongst several official and hopeful Jacaranda and Junior Jacaranda candidates and Matron of Honour nominees is beginning to bloom after the Grafton Jacaranda Festival Committee welcomed more than 30 attendees to an information evening at the Crown Hotel Motel on March 27.

As he highlighted the various responsibilities expected of all candidates and nominees, along with the roles of their sponsors and the importance of community engagement and fundraising events, Manager of the Grafton Jacaranda Festival Mark Blackadder said being part of the historic annual event is also a unique learning experience with participants having the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills, meet different people and form new friendships, and give something back to their local community.

During the evening, 2023 Jacaranda Princess Talissa “Tilly” Sparrow shared snippets of her jacaranda journey with attendees, and said she grew a lot personally during the past 12 months.

“Every single person going into the Grafton Jacaranda Festival gets something new out of their experience,” she said, adding her time as a Jacaranda candidate allowed her to build confidence in her public speaking ability.

“I had an amazing time as a Jacaranda candidate, and I’d encourage anyone thinking about nominating to definitely go ahead and do it,” she said.

14-year-old Caleb Foster, who is the first boy to nominate as a Junior Jacaranda candidate throughout the popular events proud 90-year history, said he felt inspired to become involved with the oldest floral festival in Australia after watching Toby Power be crowned the 2023 Jacaranda King last year.

“I’m a man, he’s a man, and I told myself if he (Toby) can do it, I can do it,” he said.

Describing his role as a Junior Jacaranda candidate as a big commitment, Caleb revealed he is hopeful of encouraging other young men to nominate in years to come, adding “everyone should give it a try.”

“No matter who you are or how you identify, as long as you’re committed, that is what matters,” he said.

Sponsored by Dougherty Property, Caleb said he would assume the title of Junior Jacaranda King if he receives the honour of being crowned during the Westlawn Royal Party Crowning Ceremony on October 26.

Jacaranda and Junior Jacaranda candidates are open to all gender identities aged between 18 and 30, and 12 to 14.

All candidates will be able to choose their own title of King, Queen, or Ambassador.

Nominations close on April 8.

For further information, please visit www.jacarandafestival.com