2019 Newcastle Permanent Float Procession
2019 Newcastle Permanent Float Procession Adam Hourigan

BEST YET: Jacaranda Festival reaches new heights

THE Jacaranda Festival has been "given back to the people", and it seems they couldn't be happier about it.

"I've had thousands of people come up to me and say it's the best Jacaranda Festival so far," festival manager Mark Blackadder said.

"So that makes us very proud."

After 10 days of Jaca fun and frivolity, the 85th Jacaranda Festival has hit a few highs.

The event that kicked it all off, the Caringa Ball was Mr Blackadder's highlight of the floral fun and was Grafton's largest ever formal event with 520 attendees.

And it's only going to get bigger and better.

"We want to make that affordable and the plan is to have room for 1000 people next year," he said.

Another notable change this year was Jaca HQ, the merchandise store on Prince St which Mr Blackadder said captured the international tourist market unlike ever before.

"Bringing it onto the main street made a world of difference," he said.

This year the festival highlighted inclusivity, with the theme Everybody belongs woven into each event.

Mr Blackadder said putting the issue front and centre was something the festival would build on in the future.

And with so much positivity, nothing can rain on the Jacaranda parade.

Schools arrive at Market Square at the Bendigo Bank Parade of Youth and Banner Competition down Prince Street to Market Square during the 2019 Jacaranda Festival on Saturday, October 26.
Schools arrive at Market Square at the Bendigo Bank Parade of Youth and Banner Competition down Prince Street to Market Square during the 2019 Jacaranda Festival on Saturday, October 26. Mitchell Keenan

The giant Kewpie Doll that was set alight on Friday night sparked a response in true Jacaranda spirit.

The community rushed to Jacaranda Jill's aid with businesses and community members pitching in to ensure she has a spectacular purple skirt for the 2020 festival.

"We can't look at it as a negative, she'll be back bigger next year," Mr Blackadder said.

"It proved to us the doll was loved, the whole community embraced her."

For the festival committee it has been an exhausting but exhilarating two weeks and it all came to a close on Sunday night with Club Briefs, an internationally renowned circus and burlesque performance that was the after-party for the 10-day extravaganza.

The show from former Grafton local Mark Winmill and the talented crew is the perfect ending to a wild, wacky and wonderful Jacaranda Festival.

Mr Blackadder said he and the committee will be back next year to do it all over again.



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