So It Goes: Having a ball

QUEEN: Former Strawberry Queen Fay Cressey.

QUEEN: Former Strawberry Queen Fay Cressey.

We could have had a ball.

What’s not to love about a ball, especially when it’s combined with strawberries? This year’s Strawberry Ball was to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the festival, but most particularly to honour and remember those queens and princesses who rode with pride the floats that were once endemic to the Redlands.

It was a good idea, to celebrate Redland history in all its strawberry splendour.

But it seems some of strawberries have soured and sadly, the ball has been cancelled.  There was interest in this gala event, there was even interest with cream on top, but balls just don’t seem to have the same appeal they did 60 years ago. The ball, I am sorry to say, has been cancelled.

And so I would like to honour these iconic Redland women in this column. I feel somewhat connected to RedFest given the fact that it and I are the same age. I know what it feels like to turn 60 and it is with a equal degrees of pride and reluctance that you cross that line.

It was also 40 years ago that I covered as a young journalist my first Strawberry festival, one of many fresh faced Redland folk lining Bloomfield Street to wave and cheer as the Strawberry Queens floated past like cream puffs in an eclair.

This was a time for the community. Not only did you wave at those in the procession, but you waved at one another. The Redlands was a place where no one held a secret for long. Everyone knew everyone and the Strawberry festival was like a big family reunion.

And just like it was then, the ball was intended as a chance for the young things to sit at the feet of the former stars of the day and learn from the learned.

But we are a resilient lot. There will be no strawberry withering on our vine. We shall honour our history in other ways. The queens and princesses are still welcome to pop on their sashes, fix their crowns on firmly and head to the Alexandra Hills Hotel on September 1, there to launch the festival in a different way.  There may even be a bit of a ballroom dancing demonstration, thanks to our own Errol Perry of Big Strawberry fame. And for that moment, we can all close our eyes and feel ourselves transported.