HAPPY DAYS: Jeff Smith, Kristen Smith, Chris Gulaptis, Donna Hunt and Sarah Templeton are all smiles after the Jacaranda Festival Committee's successful application for $20,000 from the NSW Government.
HAPPY DAYS: Jeff Smith, Kristen Smith, Chris Gulaptis, Donna Hunt and Sarah Templeton are all smiles after the Jacaranda Festival Committee's successful application for $20,000 from the NSW Government. Jarrard Potter

$20k flagship funding a first for Clarence Valley

ORGANISING this year's Jacaranda Festival will be that little bit easier with yesterday's announcement the organising committee will receive $20,000 through the NSW Government's 2017 Flagship Event Fund.

The committee has made history as one of the first groups to receive the funding in the Clarence Valley, and festival president Kristen Smith said it was a really exciting time for the festival.

"This money is massive, it means so much to us," she said.

"It means that we can attract tourists to the area which helps the local economy and all the flow-on from that, and I think it really puts us on the map and validates that the festival has been around for 83 years and has another 83 years left in it."

After hiring an external consultant in 2015 to help ensure the future of the festival, Ms Smith said the successful application was proof some of the changes recommended in the consultant's report were having an impact.

"Last year was the first year we incorporated some of those changes, so I think it'd be really fantastic as well to keep building on the report and take it further," she said.

Jacaranda Festival coordinator Donna Hunt said the grant was a positive sign.

"It shows that the work that we've done over the last couple of years to start some changes in the festival have paid off and are getting noticed and it's a real encouragement for us to keep that work up over the next couple of years," she said.

"It will allow more people to come and see (the festival) and is something that Grafton should be really proud of."

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis praised the Jacaranda Festival as a premier event in Grafton, and congratulated the committee on their success.

"The Flagship Event Fund represents Regional NSW at its best, with local communities coming together to stage events that showcase the unique character, culture and attributes of their region," he said.

"The Flagship Event Fund is a terrific NSW Government initiative and part of our renewed commitment to boost regional economies through tourism and major events.

"Events such as the Jacaranda Festival play a fundamental role in attracting new and returning visitors to our regional towns, bringing with them additional business to restaurants and cafes, local tourism operators, attractions and accommodation providers.

"The vision of the Festival Committee is to reinvigorate the festival and bring new and vibrant ideas to the table so it continues to draw visitors to the Jacaranda City into the future."

Clarence Valley Council also sponsors the Jacaranda Festival as part of the special events sponsorship program and partnered with Jacaranda in planning and writing the Flagship Event Funding application.



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