Travels with Siri – Jacaranda queen


OMG, I could have told you from all my digital data entries about the Jacaranda festival in Grafton, New South Wales, but now I have seen it with my own eye a.k.a. camera. Personally speaking, this is nothing I need to celebrate every year or witness it. Understanding Valentina’s remarks and statements correctly, I think she agrees with me. All the hype the local people make about this festival shows that it is something very special to them and dear to their hearts. Fine it is.

Before you burst of anticipation let me get into the subject and tell a bit about this festival. The Jacaranda Festival in Grafton has its name because of the purple flowers of the jacaranda tree. Admittedly, they are gorgeous and the amount of trees in this town is astonishing. Valentina had no clue why the festival was called Jacaranda festival; she didn’t even know what a jacaranda is. She just drove to the town because her friend from Alice Springs had told her about it and suggested it might be a fun thing to see and experience. And that it was.

One week in spring, around the end of October, Grafton in Queensland celebrates this festival and basically the whole town and its people are dipped into the paint bucket of the colour purple or rather lilac. In the town centre there I a little fun fair with carousels that seem to have been around for the last 40 or 50 years. Okay, I think it was two carousels they had, for the kids. Then there were two or three food stalls, a coffee stall, a snowball cart with slushed ice of different flavours, and some art stalls. To somebody who is used to rather bigger, fancier, more diverse and more modern events, this is rather a time travel into the past. Mind you, this event goes back into the 1930s and frankly it seems it hasn’t changed that much.

Then there is the contest of the Jacaranda Queen. No, that is not correct; it is the contest of the Jacaranda Queen and Princess, the Junior Jacaranda Queen and Princess, the Page and the Flower Girl, and the honoring of the person, most likely the woman, who collected the most money in a donation run prior to the festival. You see there are quite some positions to fill. Every year! Of course before the new queens etc. are announced, the old ones have to renounce their positions. All this is taking its time so it’s okay to get up from your chair (if you are lucky to have found an empty one) and grab something to eat.

The food choice is abundant: there are corn dogs with ketchup, waffles, fairy floss, fries, lollipops, and popcorn. At two similar stalls. More food options are available at the restaurants nearby. The Thai place seemed to have been very popular because the waiting time to be served was 45min at one point. In comparison the pizza place two doors down had the pizza done in 15 minutes and was absolutely fine. How do I know this? Easy, Valentina finished her pizza with a satisfied and acknowledging ‘yum’ while she watched the new queen being crowned.

According to one of the guest speakers, the Jacaranda Festival is known all over the world. Apparently he had been to Canada some months before and a Canadian had asked him where he was from and he had replied from Grafton, Australia. The Canadian then responded with: “Ah, where the Jacaranda Festival takes place.” I don’t know if one Canadian knowing about the Jacaranda Festival means the festival is known all over the world, but hey, if that boosts your confidence.

I shouldn’t be so harsh here. The people in the Grafton area have been celebrating this festival since the 1930s and for an event like that to be going on and strong in the 21st century shows proper love for tradition. Especially when it’s a tradition that doesn’t hurt anybody and when it’s in a country with a rather short (white) history. Hail to the Jacaranda Queens!

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