An era ends for city's flourishing festival

MENTION St Marys Spring Festival and Norma Thorburn is the one of the first people who springs to mind.

For the past 16 years she's been the backbone of the St Marys Development Committee, which runs the annual event.

It's the biggest day of the year for St Marys and attracts up to 25,000 to Queen Street.

For 13 years, the committee secretary/treasurer was responsible for festival bookings, including stalls, attractions and entertainment.

This year's event was the end of a 38-year era for the committee, which has approached St Marys Town Centre to take over the festival from next year.

"When I started this role, I said I would retire at 70," Mrs Thorburn told the Star.

"It's taken me five years to retire.

"At my age, it's a big job to organise the event, which takes seven months of the year.

"Once you start taking bookings, the phones don't stop."

Mrs Thorburn admitted it was sad to hand over the reigns.

"We've been working together for a long time," she said.

"There is a couple on the committee who have been involved for the 38 years.

"We're pleased the event will continue, which was our main concern.

"We've put a lot of work into it over the years.

"You could say we're victims of our own success.

"When I took it over 13 years ago, I started from scratch. It was a just a small event in 2000 and it has grown every year since."

Mrs Thorburn will always have a soft spot for the event.

"I always enjoy it," she said.

"One of my favourite parts of the day was seeing the Bennett Wagon rumbling down the street. It's part of the heart and soul of St Marys.

"The event brings people into St Marys to learn about what this town has to offer."

This isn't the last you'll hear from Mrs Thorburn.

The St Marys South resident hopes to help out on the day next year and offer any advice and help to the town centre if asked.

The spare time means she can dedicate more as St Marys District Historical Society secretary.

"I've been doing more guest talks and tours," she said. "I'll still have lots to do to keep me busy."

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