IT'S OFF! Jaca Festival latest casualty of COVID-19
GRAFTON'S biggest event on the social calendar is the latest casualty of the evolving COVID-19 situation.
The Grafton Jacaranda Festival Committee met with sponsors, stakeholders, queen candidates and members via an online Zoom meeting this evening to announce the Jacaranda Festival will not take place in 2020.
Festival manager Mark Blackadder said the decision was not taken lightly and was based on the committee's focus on the health and safety of everyone involved.
"We're heartbroken to have had to make this call," Mr Blackadder said.
"But due to the pandemic and the uncertainty around where things will be in late October we had no other choice.
"This decision was made after meeting with our key sponsors and stakeholders and it was unanimous that we postpone until more certain times in 2021 when we can invite everyone to a bigger and better event."
It is the first time in the festival's 86-year history the event has been postponed. The festival was originally scheduled to take place from Friday, October 30 to Sunday, November 8.
It is understood the committee had previously looked at a 'watered down' version of the festival to be held over one weekend. This was to include a version of the Jacaranda Ball on the Friday night, Queen Crowning Ceremony on the Saturday night and the Jacaranda Afternoon Tea and Jacaranda Fun Run on the Sunday, with events restricted to 150 persons.
However, the latest COVID-19 developments, with NSW now in a state of 'high alert' over the virus, prompted the committee's decision to postpone the event.
"We will still keep the Jaca HQ open to sell our great range of merchandise and answer any questions," Mr Blackadder said.
"The Clocktower will still be crowned and most importantly the trees will be in full bloom.
"So while there'll be no festival this year the natural beauty of the flowering jacarandas which provides the underlying motive for our existence will still continue."
In June it was announced Enid McKew would be the 2020 Jacaranda Festival Matron of Honour alongside four junior and four senior queen candidates.