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The Hibiscus Festival

Fred Wesley

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Today is a big day for contestants vying for this year's Hibiscus Festival crown.

When they wake up this morning, contestants will be doing so with mixed emotions.

There will be excitement, a touch of trepidation maybe, but hopefully there will be a sense of accomplishment as the queens prepare for the final day of what has been a hectic week of engagements in the Capital City.

Today is about winding up an exciting part of their young lives.

Today is about drawing the courage to live with whatever the final outcome will be at tonight's crowning at the main stage at Albert Park.

There will undoubtedly be nervous queens and kings.

And as the hours wind down to the big announcement, reigning Hibiscus queen Drue Slatter, who will pass on the crown tonight, said she was pleased with the talent and class the women brought to the show.

"I think the queens have done really well. I'm so impressed by their calibre and proud of what they advocated for and what they brought with them," she said.

"The second public judging was a clear improvement from the first one and the talent night I think it really boosted their confidence. I take my hat off to them because unless you've been a part of the pageant, you couldn't possibly understand the limits these girls have pushed themselves to."

The crown changes heads tonight.

For what it is worth, the weeklong event has attracted thousands of people from around the country.

Events like the Hibiscus Festival are important for the nation for they bring people from all walks of life together.

We live in a country brimming with people of different religious beliefs, traditions and cultures, yet we all share something in common when it's Hibiscus time.

It is a time of sharing, and appreciating the beauty and fun times at the festival.

For one week, every imaginary divide is torn apart and replaced by an overwhelming sense of shared joy, fun, excitement and unity.

The festival is not only for the people of Suva.

The live telecasts around the region ensure that this event is now a regional affair beamed to thousands of homes daily, earning invaluable marketing points for tourism for instance.

Hibiscus contestants from the young princess contestants to the teens, ladies, queens and kings are effectively ambassadors of our beautiful country.

As we look forward with anticipation to the crowning tonight, perhaps we should remind ourselves of some of the important reasons such festivals are organised in the first place.

The Hibiscus Festival charity chest has long supported charitable causes in the city. It needs the support of the masses.

Perhaps it is important that we remind ourselves that such events also reaffirm our status as a truly multiracial country. (The Fiji Times)

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