HAVING an historical event like our Jacaranda Festival, steeped in tradition but thriving in a modern age, is something special.

It's unique format continues to attract annual visitors and curious first-timers, and over the years the attention of film-makers, glossy magazines and photographers all keen to capture the many nuances of the oldest floral festival in Australia.

The latest film to showcase the festival spirit is the home-grown documentary Jaca Girls which focuses on the 20-year-old history of the Junior Queen Competition.

The junior quest was introduced in 1997 to reinvigorate the queen competition and bring a youthful, family element to the event.

The 40-minute film explores the introduction of the competition and the journey of a variety of young ladies across different years, from the first junior queen to the current. And while some girls are featured more prominently than others, all express similar "coming of age" sentiment, how the experience and friendships made helped them through what can often be a difficult period.

 

 

2008 Junior Jacaranda Queen candidates Elora Vest, Rachael Houlahan and Melista King are just a few of the girls who came together to share their stories and be a part of the new documentary Jaca Girls.
2008 Junior Jacaranda Queen candidates Elora Vest, Rachael Houlahan and Melista King are just a few of the girls who came together to share their stories and be a part of the new documentary Jaca Girls.

 

The documentary came about after Grafton businessman, ice-cream vendor and Jacaranda Committee member Jeff Smith, inspired by witnessing the young girls entering the quest each year and the various pathways that followed, felt there was a story to be told about those defining years as they approach young adulthood.

Jeff was co-producer along with Cast Net Productions' Danny Loyden and Sammy Lovejoy who said the documentary took 16 months to produce.

"It has grown organically. There was no script. It just grew out of festival experiences from last year and we have been filming and editing ever since," Sammy said.

  • Jaca Girls premieres on Friday at the Criterion Theatre, 7pm, the beginning of the new nine-day Jacaranda Festival format. Tickets are $10 and available at I-Scream in Prince St, or online from the Jacaranda Festival website.
2007 Jacaranda Queen Sarah Templeton and 2015 Junior Jacaranda Queen Laura Hall star in the new documentary Jaca Girls which premieres this Friday night.
2007 Jacaranda Queen Sarah Templeton and 2015 Junior Jacaranda Queen Laura Hall star in the new documentary Jaca Girls which premieres this Friday night.

Jaca Girls review

IT'S endearing, occasionally confronting, but generally an upbeat reflection of this relatively new aspect of the Jacaranda Queen competition offering some very personal stories and a few laughs along the way.

There are the proud and supportive mums who are along for the journey, vintage footage and, without giving too much away, some very touching moments as the young women not only recollect their thoughts about that time in their lives and the bonds they developed, but what it means to them today as young adults.

It's nice to see a quaint but easily ridiculed tradition in these hard-core times, capture the genuineness and friendship that a small community-based event like the Junior Jacaranda Queen competition can foster. It was described like being in a "mini family" for the six-month journey where the young candidates are mentored and inspired by the committed volunteers, which, if it does takes a village to raise a child, can only be a good thing. - Lesley Apps



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