Seventh Queen contest in Hastings
This year’s Blossom Queen contest is the seventh to be held.
The 14-year-old festival had been running for seven years before the organisers hit on the bright idea of running a queen contest concurrently with the Blossom Festival.
The innovation took on at once, and after its establishment there has never been any shortage of competitors in the Blossom Queen field.
Apart from the Blossom Queen, two runners-up are chosen as Blossom Princesses, and the three take part in all public functions associated with the festival, and ride on the city councils decorated float at the head of the Blossom Procession.
Entrants for the Queen contest appear on stage at a series of local talent concerts in the Municipal Theatre in the month of before the festival starts.
The girls are judged for speech, general knowledge, demeanour and dress.
“We have never wanted it to become simply a beauty contest or a leg show,” says Greater Hastings public relations officer, Mr Ken Sparks. “though we can all be proud of the youth and good looks of the Blossom Queens we have had.”
Individual qualities are what make a Blossom Queen – though the fact of being 19-years of age seems to bring some sort of numerical luck to a majority of the contestants.
The first Blossom Queen, (1957), Shona MacDonald a speech-therapist at 27 has been oldest contestant to win the title. Miss MacDonald was sponsored by Hastings Group Theatre, and later went to Christchurch as a speech therapist. She is now married.
In 1958, 19-year-old Deidre French, now married, was awarded the title.
The year following TMV Wines sponsored 19-year-old Miss Barbara Inglis to the winning post.
In 1960, Helena Hannah and her princesses led the Blossom Procession draped in clear plastic as protection against the rain which “washed out” the official parade.
This was the occasion of the “notorious” festival, events of which took on an almost mythical aspect the further the reports went from Hastings.
Colleen Tait was Blossom Queen in 1961 and found a much more favourable climate.
Last year a 19-year-old Maori nurse from Napier, Hiraina Hills, became the first member of her race to wear the blossom crown.
The new Blossom Queen has joined the ranks of a group of girls who have all done honour to the title.
Photo captions –
Helena Hannah, Deirdre French, Barbara Inglis, Shona MacDonald, Colleen Tait, Hiraina Hills