Ingham Daily Press

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Festivity is in the air: Ingham comes together to celebrate Maraka

Crowning of the Queens - Amy Shadforth (seated) was named 2019 Maraka Queen. (Photo supplied)

OCTOBER skies, and warmer days, the smell of freshly cut cane, the anticipation of coming together in celebration tells us that it’s that time of year again.

Ingham’s Maraka Festival is back this year and promises to be bigger, better and even a bit spooky.

The event themed, ‘Halloween Down Under’ kicks off tonight with the Wilmar Sugar Maraka Queen Presentation Night at the Herbert River Jockey Club.

Seven Maraka Queen entrants will be presented to the community for the first time by 2019 Maraka Queen, Amy Shadforth.

The Festival Committee has been hard at work in the lead up to the two-week festival to ensure they make up for last year’s missed event, which was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Festival President, Lynette Croton said: ‘Maraka means a lot to the Ingham community. It is a great time to meet up with friends and enjoy great entertainment.

‘Maraka is an Aboriginal word meaning “pleasant evening – happy to get together” and that’s exactly what the festival is all about.’

The festival will continue tomorrow with the popular Maraka Afternoon Tea, as the seven Princess entrants make their first appearance of the festival alongside the Queens.

The festivities will also feature a pet parade, fence painting, float procession, mardi gras and highlight of the festival, the crowning of the Maraka Queens and Princesses.

Unfortunately, this year, a 60-year-old tradition and festival favourite the Homebush steam train rides, could not go ahead due to COVID-19 concerns and insurance requirements.

Mrs Croton said locals will still experience the usual festival fun and activities over the two weekends.

She said: ‘People can expect a great procession, good food and entertainment at all events.’

Maraka Queens Coordinator, Kim Cantoni said the Queens have been busy preparing for the event and were looking forward to the festival and being part of the celebration.

‘The Queens are looking forward to all the events starting with Queens presentation night, then the afternoon tea with both the queens and princesses and then the grand finale at the mardi gras which is the highlight of the festival.

‘It’s been so much fun getting together with the Queens in the lead up to the festival, spending time out to dinner, getting to know each other, finding outfits and organising their speeches.

‘It’s a special honour to be named Maraka Queen and it means a lot to these young women who have bravely stepped out to be part of it and represent their town and community.’

Mrs Cantoni said: ‘If girls are interested in becoming an entrant in next year’s festival, they can contact the Maraka Committee or reigning Maraka Queen who can help them start on their journey.’

The uniquely Ingham festival has been running since 1959 and celebrated 60 years in 2019.

The festival is very much entrenched in Ingham culture as a celebration of its history, community spirit and the local people.

All the colour and excitement of the float procession at the 2019 Maraka Festival 60 year celebration. (Photo supplied.)

MARAKA FESTIVAL – PROGRAM OF EVENTS

Saturday 23 October

Wilmar Sugar Maraka Queen Presentation Night – Herbert River Jockey Club, Catering by Marion and Piera, Live music by Anthony John – Presentation of the seven Maraka Queens.

Sunday 24 October

Carey Group and Ingham Family Medical Practice Afternoon Tea – Royal Hotel – Presentation of the seven Maraka Princesses and Queens.

Saturday 30 October

9.00 am – Ingham Show Grounds – Tropical Vets Halloween costume pet parade, Ingham Manufacturers Mitre 10 fence painting, Loop de Lou balloons and Timmy the Train.

5.00 pm- Rotary Park – the Ergon and the Hinchinbrook Shire Council procession followed by the NQIB mardi gras, entertainment on stage, the Bakehouse on Central fireworks, rides and amusements, stalls, food, the Townsville Lime and Gypsum bar and the crowning of the Royal Hotel Maraka Queens, and Maraka Princesses.

A crowd pleaser: The mardi gras in Rotary Park is always a great night of entertainment including the fireworks display to top of the festival celebrations. (Photo supplied.)

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