Week 31 – Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest

Back in the late 1950’s the Geraldton Retail Traders’ Association came up with the idea of holding a tomato festival in Geraldton. As plans evolved, the name changed to the Sunshine Festival and was always held during the August school holidays. Back then, there were only 3 terms to a year and school holidays were one week in May, two weeks in August and six weeks in December and January.

In 1972, my friend Elizabeth Buczkowski was working as a receptionist at Coca Cola (which incidentally is how I got to meet my husband Bob. He was a truck driver for Coca Cola!) and I was at Locke’s Furnitures.  I knew Liz from college and I walked passed her house on my way to work each day. Liz wanted me to go in the Queen Quest with her, or was that the other way around!? So, for the fun of it, we did.

The Miss Sunshine Queen Quest was a fund raising venture, so we had to raise money for different charities. For the life of me, I cannot remember much about that part of it, other than going to a few functions as a group of 10 entrants.

When the judging time came, we had to answer questions in front of a panel of businessmen and women from Geraldton. Well, as you do when faced with questions, you clam up and everything you should be saying goes out the window. I failed big time in my local knowledge. Wish they’d ask me those same questions now!

On the day of the Sunshine Festival Float Parade, we all had to ride in the back of a boat and wave like mad at the crowds along Marine Terrace. When we arrived at the Recreation Ground, we were all paraded in front of the crowd and sat in front of the mayor and other dignitaries. And of course, the 1970s was still the era of the mini skirt. Check out the legs in the photo below!

Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest – Jenny 4th from left

Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest

I remember my float parade dress, it had a white bodice with burgundy trim and a matching skirt with burgundy and white print. I had long hair at the time and had it twirled around in curls and pinned at the back of my head.

The following Saturday night was the big night, the Sunshine Festival Ball. We’d been paraded around town, attended functions and tonight was the night. I’d been to Fred Massotto, one of the hair dressers in town and had my hair done in ringlets. I guess overall, I thought I looked pretty swish.


Sunshine Festival Ball

Sunshine Festival Ball 1972


My ball dress was a long white voile gown, with pink floral print and trimmed around the neck, wrist and waist and a frill around the bottom. We had to get sponsors for the event and my sponsor was Wright’s Fashion Salon, where my dress came from. We also had to have partners and at that time I didn’t have anyone, so Liz introduced me to ?? name escapes me and no photos. We were taught ballroom dancing at Miss Dawson’s dance studio and had to practice walking slowly and curtsey. I had learnt dancing at college, so that wasn’t too hard.

We each had to parade down the red carpet at the Geraldton Town Hall and walk up the steps, go on stage and answer more questions. I distinctly remember the announcer saying that I played netball and he asked who I played for? “Twilights, of course!” was my answer! Yoooooo! Yes, I did play for Twilights, but seriously, did I have to answer like that!! Mum and Dad came down for the event and were sitting up in the gallery. Mum told me later, that I walked so slow down the centre, they thought I was never going to make it. Hahaaa! I guess I was so nervous and frightened that I’d trip over and as for getting up those steps in a long dress!!!?

Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest

Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest 1972 Dorothy Moir, Kerry Jupp, Sandra Ballingall, Jenny Cripps, Kerry Dyer, Marilyn Glass, Anne Brown, Elizabeth Buczkowski, Judy Moir, Julie Heinrich.


It was such a relief when the announcement was finally made. And The Winner Is… Drum Roll…Miss Julie Heinrich (now Clark). Julie is on the far right. I was never in the running, but we had such a good time and made life long friends. Kerry Jupp (now Driscoll), 2nd from left, 6th is Marilyn Glass and 7th from the left is Anne Brown (now Smith) and Julie Heinrich (Clark). Liz Buczkowski, who I haven’t seen in a long time is 3rd from the right.

I remember being disappointed that we never received our gift of “Clairol Hair Care” for being entrants in the Queen Quest!!

There is a write up about the ball in the Geraldton Guardian of Sept 5, 1972.




About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
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7 Responses to Week 31 – Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Quest

  1. Hi Jenny, great post. I shared it on Facebook at my Society page to help give other hints about telling family history stories. Your story reminded me the great times I had at the local show. Tasted my first yoghurt in the 60’s at one. Fran

  2. tstatton says:

    Another great read Jenny. Fancy you being and entrant in “The Miss Sunshine Queen Festival Event”! You certainly were pretty enough to have won it, but gee what courage you would have had to have in even entering it. Well done. You have certainly lead an extraordinary life! So many hidden ‘extras’ in you life that none of us would have ever imagined. Keep the excitement rolling Jenny as I love reading about your life.

    • Jenny MacKay says:

      I’m surprising myself at some of the things I got up to, but I bet if everyone wrote their life story, you’d all come up with some extraordinary things that you did. Maybe I’m a bit too brave putting it out there. And as for the pretty bit, that never came into the equation and one thing I distinctly remember and didn’t want to out in the story, although it’s here now, but many don’t read the comments, was when another teenager, nearly adult, as she’s only a couple of years older, said to me, I thought you had to be pretty to enter the Queen Quest. Well, that floored me, as I’d never considered myself pretty, not with bucked teeth and all as I had in those days. We just went in it for fun. I hope she’s having a happy life!

  3. With no Agricultural Show at Geraldton the Sunshine Festival became the “go to” event. There was always the worry that the festival might overtake the Northampton Show, but that was not to be as we near the 100th on the 9 September. I remember the thrill of attending my one and only in 1968 and seeing all the displays in the old wheat silos and the parade down Marine Terrace.
    If they asked you a history question now, you would ace th event.

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