Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
The Geraldton Scout Group took out the Best Theme category in the Sunshine Festival Parade last year. The community event is celebrating its 60th anniversary this weekend.
Camera IconThe Geraldton Scout Group took out the Best Theme category in the Sunshine Festival Parade last year. The community event is celebrating its 60th anniversary this weekend. Credit: Zen Events

A lot has changed in Geraldton in the last 60 years, but the Sunshine Festival has been entertaining the community every year since 1958.

Kicking off this weekend, the annual Sunshine Festival will celebrate its diamond jubilee with a jam-packed week of family-friendly events and activities at Stow Gardens. The event is believed to be the longest-running regional festival in WA, first brought to life in 1958 by the Geraldton Retail Traders’ Association.

What started as an idea to hold a tomato festival quickly evolved into the Sunshine Festival, drawing attention to the constant stream of sunny days in the reg-ion.

Committee chairman Ian Fisher said the continued support of the community was the reason the festival had returned each year.

“It holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts because it’s been going for so long and they want to keep it going,” he said.

“Everyone you talk to has been involved on the committee, sponsored it or helped out on the day.

“Everyone knows it really well ... and people just keep coming down — it’s a good fun day and it’s free as well.”

The festival will officially open at 10am on Sunday with a Family Fun Day.

Throughout the day, families can enjoy live music and dancing on the Stow Gardens stage, at the Mid West Ports Inflatable Zone, the Fusions Gelato Pet Parade, and dozens of food vans and market stalls.

The crowd favourite QTM Float Parade will start at 3pm and will travel down Marine Terrace, wrapping up at the Stow Gardens stage for an awards presentation.

Before the parade, the 711 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets will be awarded Freedom of Entry to the City in Edith Cowan Square at 2.30pm.

A fly-past by RAAF Pearce-based 79 Squadron Hawk aircraft will occur during the ceremony and the march.

This year will be the first time community members can watch the GMA Garnet BMX Stunt Show on the foreshore.

In the evening, The Australian Beatles and AbbaFab will get the crowd singing and dancing along to classic songs.

“It’s the same band — they go off and get changed and come back on as ABBA,” Mr Fisher said.

“We thought about finishing with The Beatles because they’re very good, but ABBA is the party music.”

Throughout the week, the PCYC climbing wall will be open from 9am-noon at Stow Gardens.

On Tuesday, children will be able to participate in a pavement art competition for a gold coin donation, and the CWA Sand Sculptures will return on Wednesday morning.

Avivo’s Amazing Race will take competitors around the foreshore on Thursday, hunting down activity stations to fill out their “passports”.

The popular PCYC Teddy Bears’ Picnic will return to Stow Gardens on Friday, and in the evening The Gerald Apartment Hotel will host a Diamonds Are Forever cocktail party. The festivities will wrap up on Saturday with the Wakanda African Experience at the Bootenal Family Tavern and Dance for a Difference at the PCYC.

Mr Fisher said organisers expected more than 5000 people to attend this year’s Sunshine Festival.

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