Chamber chat: The story of Carnival of Flowers and us
LAST week we were given a sneak preview of the many delights in store for us during our region's biggest and best annual event, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
Not only is there a great line-up of quality music artists and celebrities coming to Toowoomba this carnival but we'll also see the inaugural spring polo display in Queens Park, an exhibition of fine arts, a progressive pubs tour and the ever-popular Grand Central Floral Parade.
For the local business community, the prospect of another successful carnival means vital tourism dollars and a national reputation we all benefit from.
According to Toowoomba Regional Council's Tourism and Events Strategy (2016-2020), the value of visitor expenditure to the region was about $467.1 million (based on Tourism Research Australia data) for the year ending June 2015.
As the carnival is a significant or iconic event for our region, it contributes to this expenditure figure.
As chamber president, the fact that the carnival is now in its 67th year gives me great pride.
For those who don't know, the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce was the catalyst for the introduction of the Carnival of Flowers.
The idea of a street carnival in various Queensland towns was floated by Essex Tait and the chamber in the late 1940s, via a circular letter sent to various other chambers, as a way to promote increased economic activity following the hardships of war.
Chamber minutes of 1948 show the idea was taken up by at least two other centres, Southport and Coolangatta, which promoted the idea of a New Year's Eve carnival.
A sub-committee of the Toowoomba chamber was formed, and it was decided "that a street carnival be held in Toowoomba".
On October 21, 1950, the inaugural Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers began with a three-mile-long street procession watched by a crowd of about 50,000 people.
It was a resounding success. As the years passed, Carnival's appeal widened, attracting tourists from across Queensland, interstate and internationally.
In 2013, the Carnival of Flowers won a Queensland Tourism Award for Festivals and Events and two years later, won gold in the Festivals and Events category at the Australian Tourism Awards.
During 2015 Toowoomba Carnival of flowers was elevated to Major Events status through Tourism and Events Queensland and won gold for the 2014 Queensland Tourism Award for Major Festivals in November 2015.
What was once a seed of thought within the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce has now blossomed.