Making lifelong friends while helping others
SUNFLOWER Queen Zarah Simpson is keen to encourage more girls to enter next year’s annual Central Highlands Easter Sunflower Festival as “the more girls who enter, the more charities we can help”.
Ms Simpson said she also hoped more girls from rural areas and towns outside Emerald considered taking part and, she said, discussions were under way to allow boys to become involved with the festival.
Ms Simpson recently returned from a week-long trip with Emerald Sunflower Princess Jordan Spargo to Canada to visit Emerald’s sister city Altona where they were able to celebrate the Manitoba Sunflower Festival.
“I did lots of tours and I was welcomed with open arms and literally treated like royalty.”
Ms Simpson stayed with the Manitoba 2018 Sunflower Queen Sasha Ginters, and met the Queen of this year’s Manitoba event Megan Fehr.
“And now, every week I call these girls. They are definitely going to be lifelong connections. And both their queen and princess will be coming here next year for our festival at easter and they’ll spend the week with us.
“You’re making connections all the way across the world and you’re keeping a bit of the legacy alive, and you just grow so much as a person ad learn so much about yourself and the world.”
She said that by making the trip to Canada she had learnt about different lifestyles and “I noticed how green everything is!
“Everyone had beautiful garden beds. It’s everyone’s goal that once the snow’s gone you plant some flowers and everything blooms beautifully.”
As an ambassador for the CQ event, Ms Simpson said the festival had also allowed her to learn more about her own community, as well as make new friends.
“You are able to talk to people in the charities here and find out how much they do in the community that goes unnoticed.
“It really opens your eyes up to what great work people do that goes under the radar.”
Ms Simpson chose CQ Pet Rescue as her charity and raised more than $4000 for the organisation.
“At the time I was a vet nurse in the area and I worked very closely with them and I knew the money would help greatly. The main cost is a lot of their medical work.
“I’ve always loved animals and the joy they bring to me. I have three dogs, two birds, a cat and a horse so it’s quite the little zoo.”
Ms Simpson said she had been “blown away” on winning the title of Sunflower Queen in April and the experience had been “just out of this world”.
In Canada, she said, boys were also involved with the event, often as chaperones walking girls on to the stage during the formal section of the competition.
“I think it would be nice just getting males involved. We’ve been discussing it but haven’t made any decisions.”
She said the festival served the community on many levels, including helping landowners in the region “take their minds off the hard times and have some joy in among the hardship”.
“People on farms can come and get involved in the parade with their kids.”
Entries are now open for next year’s festival and can be made at the Central Highlands Easter Sunflower Festival Facebook page.