WHEN Mackenzie Harvison was crowned the 2009 Jacaranda Queen, she didn’t just win a title – she overcame her own fears.

Despite being a NIDA-trained performer, Ms Harvison, 20, said public speaking used to ‘petrify’ her. However, her queen quest experience helped her face her demons.

Five months on from her crowning, the reigning queen is now encouraging other Valley women to nominate as candidates for the 2010 quest.

“It teaches you a lot about yourself as a person,” Ms Harvison said.

“I’m a performer, but I used to be petrified of talking in front of people. When you’re involved in the quest, you talk everywhere.

“I think I can speak on behalf of the other girls in saying that by the end, we conquered a lot of our fears.”

The Jacaranda Queen quest is open to women aged 18 or older at judging time – late October – who have resided in the Clarence Valley for a minimum of 12 months.

The candidates’ main focus is to fundraise for the annual Jacaranda Festival.

Ms Harvison said another highlight of the quest was the friendships she formed with her eight queen candidates.

“I think we all bonded well and I made some really good friends out of it,” she said.

She said the quest also introduced her to people from different ages and groups whom she ‘didn’t even know existed’.

“If you’re looking for a way to become part of the community, the Jacaranda Festival and the queen quest are not only great experiences, but also a great way to become part of Grafton’s history,” she said.

Ms Harvison’s comments came as Jacaranda Festival manager Libby Pigg’s call for early Jacaranda Queen nominations this year, which was a recommendation of the queen crowning committee. Nominations forms are to be submitted by the end of May.

Contact Ms Pigg at the festival office on Tuesdays from 9am-5pm on 6642 3959.

Matron needed for queens

MATRON of Honour nominations have opened for the 2010 Jacaranda Queen quest.

Jacaranda Festival organisers are seeking a ‘motherly’ person who can chaperone the queen candidates throughout their Jacaranda journey.

Tasks will include accompanying the candidates to etiquette, deportment and public speaking workshops.

Phone 6642 3959 for a nomination form.

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