HE'S THE VOICE: John Farnham will appear as headliner at this year's Carnival of Flowers Heritage Bank Festival of Food and Wine Festival.
HE'S THE VOICE: John Farnham will appear as headliner at this year's Carnival of Flowers Heritage Bank Festival of Food and Wine Festival. David Anderson

Farnsy makes music for the 70th flowers festival

BRINGING two Aussie icons together by signing John Farnham to perform alongside Dragon in the year of his 70th birthday, as well as the carnival's, has been quite a coup for Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers event co-ordinator Kate Scott.

"We are thrilled to have John Farnham perform with his band; it will be very memorable," Kate said.

It is her fifth year putting music to our floral memories, and Kate said while the Heritage Bank Festival of Food and Wine was celebrating 15 years of attracting national headline acts to its Queen's Park stage, music had been integral to the carnival since day one.

"There were marching bands in the first parade back in October 1950," she said. "Music is really important; it can set the ambience and mood straight away."

Farnham has at least one past link with the carnival, with Toowoomba Chronicle photographer Bev Lacey having uncovered a photo of the then fresh-faced Johnny Farnham at just 19 signing a girl's arm at the carnival as his career took off back in 1968.

With the carnival having attracted national attention over recent years, acts these days often approach organisers, eager for the chance to play.

"They are always really keen to experience the ambiance and interaction with a crowd that can come right up to the stage and show the artist how much they are enjoying the performance," Kate said.

"All the acts are really great to work with, even performing concerts through a couple of years of rain, and others with really high winds ...

"I was really touched a couple of years ago when Daryl Braithwaite called me after the event to say thanks and let me know he had had a great time.

"I am a big fan, so nearly dropped the phone when I heard who it was!"

Kate described the line-up at the Heritage Bank Festival of Food and Wine as "pretty special this year", including theming Saturday as a tribute night, with Queen Forever and Bjorn Again starring.

"I hope everyone will join me on the dance floor," she said.

Topping that off on Sunday, Dragon and John Farnham perform.

And while there are lots of acts to attract younger visitors as well, Kate said she had been told by "a few lovely ladies in their mid-70s that they are attending this year just because of Bjorn Again and John Farnham on the line-up!"

"Hearing this feedback is great; we try really hard to have a little bit for everyone," she said.

"We need events for young and young at heart; everything from relaxed to adventurous and active ... all with a good dose of nature and the things that make Toowoomba famous - our flowering public spaces, our country hospitality and our amazing four seasons."

That includes giving local talents their chance to shine alongside the big names, with an extensive program of free morning and afternoon Parkland Entertainment.

"It's a great opportunity to bring a chair or picnic blanket and relax in the spring displays," Kate said.

She is particularly excited this year to witness on Sunday afternoon the first Carnival Choir, which it is hoped will number about 800 voices and, after just one practice on the Wednesday, deliver two rock anthems.

"We are asking the community to join our free choir and help celebrate the 70th Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

"Buy your ticket for Sunday at the festival and then join the choir (tcof.com.au/choir) ... to wow the crowd - it is going to be one great experience!"

For those wanting a glimpse back over the past 70 years, Kate also recommended the memorabilia display being curated in the City Hall Annex for the 10 days of the carnival.

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is from September 20-29, and with a record 77 events, go to tcof.com.au to find out more and buy your tickets to festival events.