AFTER a few days of thick cloud cover and threatening storms, the weather thankfully behaved itself and four senior Jacaranda Queen candidates, 10 Junior Queen candidates and a Jacaranda festival committee breathed a sigh of relief.
After what was a relatively quick crowning ceremony, Nikki Mackie, sponsored by Westlawn Investment, was named Jacaranda Queen.
Once the shock of hearing her name read out subsided, Nikki was able to reflect on her win.
"I am honestly just so overwhelmed. I never expected to win. Gemma, Tash and Lisa are all such worthy candidates," she said.
"I was so nervous speaking too, because I was last. After hearing everyone else's speeches, I was a little bit petrified to take to the microphone."
Now, the newly crowned Queen has a whirlwind week of events to think about, and she is looking forward to fulfilling her duties with the rest of the Jacaranda Queen's Party.
"I am really proud to have this opportunity to represent the festival. It's amazing. To have my name etched into tradition and local history, it's awesome."
Gemma Moore, sponsored by Beaches @ Grafton, was another gracious winner, taking home the Jacaranda Princess title.
"I'm just really, really excited to be here at all. I am just looking forward to spending time with the three girls. We have become such good friends," she said after receiving her crown.
One of the most exciting announcements of the night, however, came when it was time to name the 2011 Holiday Princess. The gong went to a well-deserving Natasha Lentfer, who single-handedly raised the princely sum of $17,000.
While there were a few sleepless nights involved in her campaign, she is glad she took up the challenge of being a Jacaranda Queen candidate.
Her aim from the quest was to meet as many people and to experience as many different things as she could, something she achieved by organising a range of events.
Her dedication, however, also led her to selling raffle tickets at the Grafton District Services Club every Sunday, for the last 30 Sundays.
"I just haven't been able to sleep. It has been a bit of a struggle juggling two part-time jobs, uni and Jacaranda, but it was well worth it in the end."
Lisa Hunter, sponsored by YooHoo Web and Graphic Design, was named the Jacaranda Runner-Up Holiday Princess.
Junior titles went to Junior Jacaranda Queen Alexandra Thomson and Junior Princess Jasmine Banks.
Alex said that her win is definitely the highlight of her year, and maybe even her life. She also said it was a huge honour to be awarded the title. All up the senior candidates raised more than $38,000 for the festival, and the juniors more than $8000.
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