Regional carnival celebrates 70 years in full bloom
FOR 70 years the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has been the beating heart of the city, and it's not getting old.
On the contrary. Like most septogenarians, it's grown with the years, with experience, adapted to changing times and become stronger.
This year's event, themed The Power of the Flower, from September 20-29, will see a record 77 events, up from 66 last year.
Organisers expect a new record attendance is also likely, with 255,639 people last year injecting more than $24million into the local economy.
But while looking to the future, carnival organisers are also keen to acknowledge the festival's heritage, and a highlight of this year's festival will be the 70th Anniversary Memorabilia Gallery in the annex at City Hall.
Special guests at the March 30 carnival launch included Elizabeth Cornford, 79, of Kearneys Spring, who remembers watching the very first carnival parade back on October 28, 1950.
Led by a bullock team and watched by a crowd estimated to be 50,000 strong, that first parade stretched for almost 5km.
Just five years later, local girl Maureen Kistle really put Toowoomba into the forefront of the Australian consciousness by becoming Miss Australia - at the time one of the most recognised faces in the country.
The following year she graced the cover of the Carnival of Flowers magazine and the images made national headlines, giving the carnival fantastic publicity.
Her daughter Felicity recently unearthed a copy of the magazine among her late mother and grandmother's collection of pictures, articles and trophies.
"My mum was only a teenager when she won Miss Australia and I was not born until she was 41, so I was never truly aware of her former life," Felicity said.
"Mum achieved many things in her life.
"She ran a very successful restaurant in Brisbane city, became the first female presenter on ABC TV in Queensland, wrote for The Courier Mail and sat on various boards including QPAC and Channel Nine Brisbane - not to mention having a wonderful marriage to Sir Sydney Schubert, Queensland's co-ordinator-general under Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
"She raised two daughters and her connection to her home city, Toowoomba remained strong throughout her whole life."
Toowoomba Regional Council tourism spokesman Geoff McDonald said it was the diversity of the carnival program that kept it so successful, from its amazing flower and garden displays, to its music, food, beer and wine, history, art and craft, workshops and displays.
Both the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and Toowoomba City Library will run 70th anniversary programs this year, 80 private gardens will be open for view across the city, and the full entertainment line-up will be released later this month.
For more information, go to tcof.com.au or phone 131 872.