Local News

Jesse McDonald has donated $2000 in prize money towards the My Jaca Heart competition after he was unable to bring his food vendor business to Grafton following the cancellation of the Jacaranda Festival. Image: contributed.

Jacaranda memories keep spirit alive in local competition

Emma Pritchard

 An ingenious idea to help keep the spirit of the Jacaranda Festival alive has bloomed as brightly as the purple trees scattered throughout Grafton.
The unfortunate cancellation of the popular floral festival this year meant several regular visitors, including Jesse McDonald and his family, were unable to travel to the Jacaranda city.
Affectionately known as the Dagwood Dog Guy, Mr McDonald is one of the longest serving food vendors at the Jacaranda Festival and this year, he has generously donated $2000 in prize money towards the My Jaca Heart competition.
The creative initiative aims to uncover the best short story or video which expresses your favourite memory of the Jacaranda Festival and what you love the most about it.
First prize is $1000, while the second and third placegetters will be awarded $750 and $250 respectively.
Describing the generous donation as “an amazing gesture” from the business, especially given the beloved food stall could not come to Grafton this year, Festival Manager Mark Blackadder said their commitment is keeping the Jacaranda spirit alive and he acknowledged it as “an incredible testament to the type of people who have been involved and the community spirit they show.”
“Jesse and Alicia McDonald and their family travel Australia working at all major shows, but with the cancellation of many events this year they have had to stay home in Brisbane,” he said.
“Jesse has attended the Grafton Jacaranda Festival with his parents and grandparents every year since he was born, and this will be the first year he hasn’t been able to.”
In a media release, Mr McDonald said he had grown up watching all the jacaranda trees blooming and the town of Grafton bustling with anticipation and painting the town purple for two weeks while celebrating the longest running flower festival in Australia.
“My grandparents have been a part of the festival since 1952, and each year we hire up to 20 locals who have become part of our family,” Mr McDonald said.
“We buy from all the local businesses and spend our money in Grafton each year and we support locals as much as possible.
“If Covid-19 has taught or reminded us of anything, it’s to always keep supporting locals.
“We can’t wait to get back across the border to bring a little happiness to families far and wide.”
While the My Jaca Heart competition has no set format, the Jacaranda Festival Committee is looking for the most creative story or video production and locals are encouraged to get involved and share their Jacaranda memories.
Entries can be submitted online at www.jacarandafestival.com or posted to PO Box 40, Grafton, 2460.
All entries must be received by November 30.