Susan Pinsutti danced like no one was watching, Linda Hurley regaled the crowd with a Lilac song, and her husband, the nation's Governor General talked up community.
They were just some of the sights and sounds as Goulburn's 72nd Lilac City Festival opened in Belmore Park on Saturday, September 30.
Locals and visitors thronged into the park under brilliant sunshine and an upbeat atmosphere for the event, steeped in tradition.
Committee member, Sam Ross, said securing the Governor General, Sir David Hurley AC DSC, and wife, Linda, was a particular coup.
"It's a big highlight," Mr Ross said.
"The Governor General opened the first Lilac City Festival (in 1951) so it's a bit like going back to the beginning."
The eight-member committee and helpers set out to inject a spirit of community and diversity into this year's event. It included "staple" fixtures like Battle of the Bands, busking performances, live music, Zumba and the Joyland carnival, but also drag queens and representatives of the Muslim community.
The latter were in town for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia's youth conference at Goulburn Recreation Australia. Some 600 youth from around Australia are attending the two-day event.
Mr Ross said the community had backed the Lilac Festival with sponsorship, voluntary help, shop window decorations and 40 entries in Sunday's Lilac street parade. Classic Riders Club of Goulburn mounted a static bike display in the lead-up to next year's 100th anniversary of the Goulburn Motorcycle Grand Prix.
"It has come together beautifully after a lot of hard work, sponsorship and the community coming on board. We couldn't have hoped for better," Mr Ross said.
Mr Hurley was also impressed.
"Goulburn is a city well known to us...and we're always delighted to get the chance to come here," he said.
"The festival serves a very important purpose. Over the past four years our country has taken quite a battering...Linda and I have visited quite a few of those communities over the last 12 months as they've been recovering or responding to disasters.
"One of my constant messages is that communities need to find time to celebrate...At the moment we really need it to lift spirits, bring the community together and remind us how good we are as Australians."
The Governor General said he saw communities with "enormous heart," just like that shown in the tenacity of Lilac Festival organisers to keep the event going in difficult times.
"Underneath all the fun is a really important message - be strong, be together, enjoy each other's company and help each other out," Mr Hurley said.
He also praised festival patron, Tony Lamarra's 70-year involvement.
Mrs Hurley, an accomplished singer, surprised the crowd with a specially composed song about Goulburn's Lilac Festival.
Afterwards, the couple planted a Lilac tree in Belmore Park. The organising committee also gave the Hurleys a Lilac tree to plant in the grounds of Government House.
The couple had royalty in their midst. Felicity Apps was again crowned Lilac Festival Queen, while Savannah Chatfield and Abel Chandler were declared princess and prince respectively.
The festival continues on Sunday and Monday with a packed program. The Lilac street parade starts at 11am Sunday, October 1.
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