Alexandra Blossom Fest revived for new audience

Alexandra Blossom Fest revived for new audience

The central Otago town of Alexandra is celebrating the start of spring with its 60th annual Blossom Festival.

Because it was a special anniversary, some of the festival's historic floats were recreated for the day.

The central Otago town of Alexandra is celebrating the start of spring with the 60th annual Blossom Festival.

It's a festival Alexandra is pretty proud of, with colourful flowers, both real and crepe paper, giving the town a chance to put on a show uniting young and old.

"Absolutely marvellous, because I've lived in the town for 66 years, and there's not many Blossom Festivals I haven't watched," says 1957 Blossom Festival Queen Karen Peterson.

Ms Peterson was crowned the first Festival Queen back in 1957, and the lively procession through the main streets of Alexandra has always been a highlight of the week.

It's the longest running community event of its kind in New Zealand, celebrating the arrival of spring in Alexandra.

Financial problems almost killed off the festival seven years ago, the community rallying around to save it.

"It's us," says event manager Martin McPherson. "It's our sense of place, and it's the pride that we all have in where we live."

Community groups and schools spend weeks creating their colourful floats. This year, The Terrace School has recreated classic entries from over the years.

"I grew up here, and we've always done it," says teacher Sean Lowe. "I made them as a kid and it's cool to be part of it."

A tractor literally stopped the show after breaking down en route, but it was all part of the fun.

Thirty former Festival Queens returned to be part of today's parade, along with some aspiring nominees.

"Ever since I was little I've always wanted to be a princess," says 2016 Festival Princess Adriana Mawhinney. "When you were younger you look up to them, and I want to give back to the community that's given me so much."

The sunny day and record crowds ensured this Diamond Jubilee parade was one to remember.