Celebrating 50th festival

By CHRISTIAN STANGER

RAIN may have fallen throughout the day on Murwillumbah but it couldn't dampen the spirits of the thousands of happy festival-goers who flooded the showgrounds and crowded the grandstands for the Tweed Valley Banana Festival's 50th anniversary on Saturday.

From the word go with the elaborate parade along the main streets of Murwillumbah and the finale with a spectacular fireworks display, the Banana Festival 2005 was a huge success.

Committee member and co-ordinator Jann Ward was the person charged with bringing everything together and Saturday's festivities certainly paid dividends for all the hard work that she and the community put into the celebrations.

"We have had interest from as far afield as Brisbane so we're looking at a very successful festival," Ms Ward said.

"The crowd keeps building up and building up until we have a really big crowd for the crowning of the Banana Queen and the fireworks."

A member of the Banana Festival Committee for 10 years, Ms Ward knows well the excitement that the crowning of a new Banana Queen brings and was looking forward to the event, which saw the crowning of Catherine Nolan as the 50th festival queen.

"It is a very special honour to be crowned Banana Queen on the 50th anniversary and there's a lot of interest in it and it is very exciting for all the girls vying to be the 50th queen," Ms Ward said.

"But this year we also have the new event, the Banana King Challenge. We have a lot of very unique challenges for the competitors to go through.

"It's a lot different from the challenges that the Banana Queens face."

Ms Ward said the Banana Festival brings out the best in the Murwillumbah community and she has been pleasantly surprised by the number of people that have helped put the festival together and make it such a success.

"The Tweed Valley is really great when it comes to community events like this," she said.

"I'm just in awe of the generosity of the business houses, they are so good.

"We ask people for their trucks and donations and the community's businesses just put their hands in their pockets every time."



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