BANANA FESTIVAL: Making hay while the sun shines
THE 63rd annual Tweed Valley Banana Festival comes to its colourful conclusion in Murwillumbah on Saturday afternoon with the return of the much-loved street parade.
The event is also set to become an impromptu fundraiser to help farmers struggling with drought, thanks to a local service group keen to turn today's float decorations into tomorrow's farm donations.
Apex president and Tweed Valley Banana Festival Queen entrant Hannah Mudge has urged everyone to donate their hay bales used in the parade.
"If you're using hay on your float this year, donate it to our farmers like the Apex club is,” she said.
"There will be seven bales coming from the Apex club float and there will be tins for donations at the main stage at the showground.
"Support our farmers, the lifeblood of our country.”
Saturday's parade and Friday night's street carnival ends almost 10 days of festivities, with the much-loved event returning to centre stage in Murwillumbah.
The Friday night carnival, held for most of the past decade in Knox Park, returned to the main street, with businesses encouraged to open for late-night trading.
The Queen candidates were presented to the crowd ahead of the parade and their crowning at the showground.
During the event, festival life membership was given to Murwillumbah personality and staunch Banana Festival supporter Phil Taylor.
Mr Taylor was just seven when his father "Banana” Bill Taylor and several other local businessmen began the festival in 1956 and has taken part in every event since.
"Yes, it's a great honour,” he said.
"My parents would both be very proud to think that I have carried on the tradition, and hopefully my sons will and my grandson that is arriving in October.
"I have been involved since I was a child, so (the festival) means a lot to me.”
The streets around the centre of Murwillumbah will be closed for today's parade from noon to about 1.30pm. Led by mounted police, the parade heads off from Knox Park and down Nullum St to the bridge, before heading up Main St and finishing at the showgrounds.
The colourful mix crepe paper, hay, local colour and ingenuity will then head down finish up at the showground where there will be plenty of activities to keep families entertained including free rides for the kids from midday followed by a performance by Jake and the Cadillacs between 1.30pm and 3pm.
The juniors will be crowned from 3.30pm, the Teen Queens at 4.30pm and the Queens at 5pm.
The Queen candidates have been busy fundraising, with this year's money going to Tweed Palliative Support and Wedgetail Resort, Riding for the Disabled and the drought appeal.