Keeping Jacaranda fried and fresh in our mind
JESSE McDonald's is perched in his caravan built by his grandfather 50 years ago overlooking Market Square.
He could be any guy, but he's got a very special calling, and one that holds many memories for both him and the city of Grafton.
He's the Dagwood Dog guy.
Each Jacaranda, Mr McDonald and his family take pride of place in Market Square selling their own piece of fried happiness to an adoring public.
"It's got a real history too," he said. "In 1952 my grandfather first came to Jacaranda. And we haven't missed one since."
That is, until this year. COVID-19 shutdowns meant that the Jacaranda Festival events were postponed.
To make matters worse, border restrictions stopped Mr McDonald from even turning up when the flowers turned purple.
"We got shut down on March 6, and it probably won't come back until next year," he said. "That March 6 event we did is cancelled for March 6 next year - it's been a tough year.
The good news? He's back in town for one weekend only, and already he said the response has been great.
"When we set up, everyone loves it. It's a takeaway, but they can get a showbag, they can get a slushy, it's for everyone," he said.
"Where else do you get takeaway where people bring their family down for a fun experience?
"So many people come down and get it takeaway, and they start to walk to their car, and they come back and get one more, because they say it won't last the trip home."
The Dagwood Dog guy will be in town tonight, and all day tomorrow, and Mr McDonald said it was part of trying to keep the Jacaranda spirit alive.
"It's a special time in Grafton, just the atmosphere, the purple craziness - you can't beat it," he said.
"The people are in the street are just buzzing.
"As soon as we had the ability to come down we thought we'd like to keep the Jacaranda spirit going, so we donated as a prize and wanted everyone to tell us what they love about Jacaranda and keep it in people's hearts.
"We missed Jacaranda, and I everyone in the town did, so we wanted to give a bit of prize money so it's not a forgotten event.
"We want it in people's minds and when Jaca comes back next year we'll be ready to go."