ARARAT - Community spirited paramedic Ambrose Cashin has been chosen as this year's Golden Gateway Festival King.
Committee secretary, Sally Perry said Mr Cashin's selection came about due to his efforts to improve health services in the city
"Ambrose has done a lot of work for the community through his role as a paramedic and this is just one way the community can thank him for all the work he has done," she said.
Mr Cashin said it was an honour to be approached to take on the role as one of this year's patrons.
"I am very humbled to be a part of a community event that has been running now for more than 50 years and is the longest five day festival in the Southern Hemisphere with a lot of wonderful people involved.
Mr Cashin said he still has vivid memories of going to the procession as a child and seeing "Whirly Wilson's Southern Cloud" send smoke streaming into the crowd.
"I like many others was always fascinated by the local contraption that went on to feature at the Melbourne Moomba Festival," he said.
"It was great to see something from our town in Melbourne, something the whole community was proud of.
"It is great to be a part of a festival that has been going for as long as I can remember in a town that has always been such a vibrant place to bring up children."
Mr Cashin said it was a team effort that had bought about enhanced skills to ensure better outcomes and better patient care in the town.
He said that team spirit had also enabled the introduction of two crew paramedics and a day and night shift.
The immediate focus of this year's Golden Gateway Festival is today's interschool push cart and human powered vehicle challenge in the Alexandra Gardens.
Ararat 800, Ararat North, Ararat West, St Mary's and Stawell West and St Patrick's Primary School have all constructed their own push carts for the first challenge.
Ararat College and Marian College students will also go head-to-head in the human powered vehicle challenge.
That will be followed by a picnic for around 1000 school students and include the 'crowning of the King' and ceremonial 'release of the birds'.
Tonight the Coronation Ball will light up the Ararat Performing Arts Centre after the Civic reception from 6pm-7.30pm.
The ball will be followed by the announcement of this year's Queen who will be presented alongside her King on the steps of the Performing Arts Centre at 8.30pm
Vying for the title this year are Millie Reid, Alexandria Davies, Jess Klemm, Lisa Purnell, Jess Stoneman, Elizabeth Brown, Jess Hammerstein and Madison Dalgleish.
Saturday will see the first day of the very popular Ararat Gold Dig in Moyston, while the Cemetery Walk is also highly recommended.
On Sunday its an early start with the 7am breakfast and walk to the top of Mount Langi Ghiran from the Mt Langi Ghiran Picnic ground.
They'll also be a variety of activities next week including a come and try night with the King and Queen at little athletics on Thursday.
The event will culminate next weekend with the street parade and billy cart racing from 9.30am. Float entries are still being taken with prizes across all categories.
"Get out and try different things, the festival is a great chance to check out the groups in the town. There is an activity out there for everybody," Ms Perry said.
Mr Cashin said he commended the new committee's hard work in the last 12 months and urged the community to go along and enjoy the range of activities that bring the community together.
Ms Perry said if anyone wants to get involved or run an event within the festival they can contact her on 0419 583 623.