Newly appointed Jacaranda Festival manager Mark Blackadder has returned to Grafton bringing a wealth of corporate experience with him.
Newly appointed Jacaranda Festival manager Mark Blackadder has returned to Grafton bringing a wealth of corporate experience with him. Tim Howard

Jacaranda Festival is in the blood of its new manager

WITH names like Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessy and Tag Heuer on his CV, new Jacaranda Festival manager Mark Blackadder will bring vast corporate knowledge to the position.

But just as importantly, the Grafton born-and-bred local brings a love of the festival to his new role.

Mr Blackadder, the first male festival manager for 35 years, took up the job on Monday.

"Grafton is my hometown and I was born at Grafton Base Hospital on October 2, 1974, just in time for the blooming of the jacarandas,” he said.

"That had made it my favourite time of year for my past 44 years.

"Even though my employment had taken me interstate from the age of 18, I ensured to have leave each year to come back home to join my family and be part of this amazing festival.”

The Jacaranda Festival has touched his family over the years, with cousin Debbie Donohoe (nee Paine) crowned Jacaranda Princess in 1983 and aunt Kay Paine Matron of Honour in 2003.

The role is a change of pace for the optician, who spent most of his working life as a wholesale distributor of eyewear for Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessy and Tag Heuer.

In 2017 he brought his successful eyewear wholesale business, MyM Group, to Grafton so he could spend time with his mother, Jill, and nieces.

Mr Blackadder has big plans for the festival but wants to keep them under wraps until settles in the job.

Jacaranda Festival Committee president Jeff Smith said Mr Blackadder's appointment was a coup.

"He's a successful, self-made man who also has a background of knowing the festival really well,” he said.

"He's only two days into the job and already he's putting things in place.”



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