Locals turned out in force the night Jan James was crowned Lilac City Festival Queen.
As they packed into Seiffert Oval, her decorated carriage made its way to the stage where she walked on the arm of then mayor, JB (Jack Mullen). There were ladies in waiting, page girl and boys, a military guard of honour and the 1958 Lilac Queen, Pam Bladwell awaiting her.
Decked in her gown, Jan was crowned the 1959 Lilac Queen and presented with her orb and sceptre as onlookers cheered.
"It was a very exciting time," the now Jan Cooper reflected on Monday.
"It was exhilarating because even though there was only one other candidate (Joy Price), we didn't know exactly how much each had raised."
Mrs Cooper remembered her experience ahead of this weekend's 70th Lilac City Festival. It will be held online due to COVID restrictions but is the longest running festival in NSW.
The event has changed over the years. But in 1959, the festival ran over 10 days and included a carnival in Montague Street, sporting competitions, marching bands, Go-kart racing, flower shows, art exhibitions and much more. For many, it was "the highlight of the year."
People stood "six and seven deep" along Auburn Street for the procession which featured elaborately decorated floats from almost every business house, community and sporting groups.
"It was massive," Mrs Cooper said.
She was announced as queen the night before her crowning at a grand ball which dignitaries, including the mayor, attended.
The Farmers and Graziers office worker had raised a record 4465 pounds, with her committee's help. They held cake stalls and car rallies and sold raffle tickets in Auburn Street during Goulburn's chilly winter.
All money raised went to the Lilac Time Hall's, which was opened the following year in time for the festival.
Jan won $250 pounds and a Gold Coast trip for the honour. In Queensland she participated in the 'Queen of Queens' beauty competition and modelled on a catwalk.
"We were treated like royalty and attended the Isle of Capri bridge opening with (Gold Coast mayor) Bruce Small," she said.
"...The whole year was amazing and it gave me a lot of confidence. I received invites to open fetes and attend various functions. They were very exciting times and it was an honour to represent Goulburn."
Jan, who also became a Girl Guides Commissioner, worked for Farmers and Graziers for many years. She married local man and accountant John Cooper and the couple moved to the Gold Coast in 1987. They had daughter, Susanne, a state swimming representative, and adopted Anthony as a young child. He passed away at age nineteen. John died three years ago.
Mrs Cooper retains a great fondness for the Lilac Festival and stays in touch with her Goulburn family and friends. Lately she's been posting her photos on social media.
"It's been fascinating to see people's responses because it brings back such happy memories. It really brought Goulburn to life," she said.
"...It would be lovely to have a reunion of all the queens when COVID is gone...
"I look back on it pride and I don't know where the years have gone."
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