Great turnout for Golden Gateway Festival 2017 parade and billy cart race, organisers say

ARARAT’S Golden Gateway Festival brought 10 days of fun to a close with its annual parade on Sunday.

Crowds lined Barkly Street to see schools, community groups and sporting clubs put on their best floats and processions for the chance to win a prize.

The Golden Gateway Festival King Daryl Lowerson and Queen Megan Hammerstein took pride of place in the back of a powerboat towed by a V8 Falcon.

Eric ‘Whirly’ Wilson’s Southern Cloud, vehicle, better known as ‘The Bomb’, made what might be its last ride in the parade after decades of showing off at the Golden gateway Festival and Moomba.

Whirly turned a 1927 Dodge Flying 4 into a novel entrant in the inaugural Golden Gateway Festival parade in 1951.

The Wilson family entered the Southern Cloud in the parade as a tribute to Eric, who died in May aged 93.

Golden Gateway Parade co-organiser Wilf Dickeson said there was a good crowd for the parade, which fed into the start of the Ararat Show on Sunday.

“It was excellent, that’s my personal belief,” he said.

“The street was absolutely awash with people.

“The numbers were certainly higher than in other years, due I think to the fact that the Southern Could was in it.”

Mr Dickeson said a lot of older residents attended the parade to see the highly decorated vehicle that had been a key attraction of Golden gateway festivals in their youth.

“The people who could remember it, they came out for its last appearance,” he said.

“They came out to see it again. The crowds lined up from right at the beginning near the courthouse to the showgrounds.

“I would say there were hundreds of people. Lots and lots of people. The participation rate for schools, businesses, community groups and sporting organisations was excellent.”

The overall prize and the Perpetual Shield went to the state schools’ marching group.

The best sports float prize was won by Ararat Swim Club.

The best community float was a tie between Ararat City Band and the Musical Comedy group.

The best children’s float went to the Ararat Junior Fire Brigade.

Mr Dickeson said the entire festival went very well.

“The activities during the week were well-supported, the likes of the gold dig, the shooting and the various other activities that were on in the community,” he said.

“I think you would have to rate it as very good. The weather was mostly kind to us. It was very windy on Sunday but that didn’t affect us.”

Mr Dickeson said people were always welcome to join the festival committee.