Friday night’s Jacaranda Ball at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club, was a sell out success.
The Gala Evening surpassed last year’s 80th Jacaranda Festival anniversary celebrations, with over 300 guests attending.
Jacaranda Festival committee Inc. president Trevor Green said that any festival which had such a successful royal gala event, to kick off their festival (such as Grafton did on Friday night), would be very lucky.
“It really makes it a special occasion for the candidates to be presented for the first time in their beautiful gowns, at such a prestigious event,” said Mr Green.
“The Jacaranda Festival is steeped in a tradition of royalty and this gala event showcases that.”
Mr Green said that one of the highlights of the evening was the return (for the second year) of the Royal Australian Navy Band.
“Normally they (the band) only visit and play at a town once, however after the hospitality shown to them by the City of Grafton last year, they returned,” he said.
“Dave Mackie (a Grafton resident who has connections with the band) ensured that the members of the band were well catered for and attended to.
“Local businesses came on board to cater for them as well,” said Mr Green.
According to Mr Green, this year’s event was the biggest attendance for many years, with over 300 guests attending the gala ball.
The evening was enjoyed by both young and old who danced the night away to the upbeat music provided by the band.
The Australian Royal Navy Band also led the Parade of Youth on Saturday morning, down Prince Street, Grafton to Market Square.
Schools from around Grafton carried colourful banners which they had decorated, in the parade to be judged in Market Square.
Westlawn Public School was awarded this year’s winner for their banner.
Saturday night’s Jacaranda Queen Crowning event kicked off with the navy band performing on stage from 5.30pm.
The crowning ceremony commenced at 6.30pm with a few changes to this year’s official program.
Grafton resident Desan Padayachee filled in for Grafton’s town crier Trevor Green, who was involved in an official capacity this year, after becoming the President of Jacaranda Festival Committee Inc. in June this year.
A surprise announcement was made during the evening with the life membership being awarded to Denise Slingsby for her great loyalty behind the scenes for around 30 years.
In 1978 Denise was a Jacaranda entrant and in 2005 she was Jacaranda Matron of Honour.
Over the years Denise has driven the official party to their events and cares for their needs, making sure that they are on time for their appointments.
After the traditional Jacaranda dance ‘Homage to the Crown’, which was performed by Studio 1 dancers the Junior Jacaranda party were announced.
Junior Jacaranda Princess went to Madeleine Vidler followed by the announcement of the Junior Jacaranda Queen, which went to a very emotional Laura Hall.
“I was really shocked – I cried,” said Laura.
“I had so many mixed emotions. I was laughing and crying and just in shock.”
“I’m very thankful for all the support that Karen Hackett, Leanne Smith and Enid McKnew our directors gave.”
“My sister Emma said that if I won this year, she’d go in it next year,” Laura said laughing.
Jacaranda Runner-up Princess went to Kahlia Payne, Jacaranda Princess-elect Kirsten Know and Holiday Princess went to Leah Wallace.
Guest of Honour, 1955 Jacaranda Queen Stella Wilson (nee Cooper) announced this year’s Jacaranda Queen – Charlotte White.
“This whole journey has been amazing,” said Charlotte.
“The support from the community has been overwhelming.
“I’d like to congratulate my fellow candidates and thank our Matron, directors and committee,” she said.
Charlotte said that she was inspired after her sister entered as a junior candidate.
After being announced as the 2015 Jacaranda Queen Charlotte said that she was really surprised.
“My heart was beating so fast,” she said.
“I look forward to representing the Clarence Valley as the 2015 Jacaranda Queen.”