Festival goes upbeat

WITH just over four weeks to the start of the Tweed Valley Banana Festival organisers have moved into top gear announcing a range of%major changes and new attractions for a bigger-and-better-than-ever event.

After more than half a century the traditional street parade through central Murwillumbah is to move from the final Saturday of the celebrations to the first.

The move allows for a second parade date in case of rain.

That will avoid a repeat of last year's disaster when for the first time in the festival's 54-year history the parade had to be cancelled at late notice.

"In the event of wet weather I have the alternative to switch days," said festival co-ordinator Chris Chrisostomos yesterday.

"Last year we got washed out. We are just trying to be as flexible as possible."

The parade is now due to take place on Saturday August 22, one day after the festival is officially opened with the weighing-in of champion banana bunches from around the district in downtown Murwillumbah, while members of the public are offered free banana custard and banana fritters.

Mr Chrisostomos said the second Saturday of the festival when the queens, princesses and princes are due to be crowned in the Murwillumbah Civic Centre following a street cavalcade of hot rods would also become the finishing day for a national charity car rally.

He said Starlight Trek Charity Bash organisers who are raising funds for seriously ill children and their families had agreed to finish their rally in Murwillumbah, and he was arranging for the rally cars to be put on public display.

"It's an additional attraction for people to come down to our family fun day and gives the rally participants a destination," he said.

The first Sunday of the festival this year is also due to feature a major aquatic carnival on the town reach of the Tweed River.

"The river doesn't get used enough," said Mr Chrisostomos.

"At this stage we look like involving trick skiers who are ex-Seaworld ski-ers, a barefoot ski-ing demonstration, a variety of other ski events and dragon boat racing demonstrations."

On top of that, he said power racing boat owners had agreed to put some of their craft on display along with vintage boats.

Further details of new and expanded events for this year's festival are due to be announced in coming weeks.

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