MAFFRA Mardi Gras returned after a pandemic hiatus with a strong turnout on Saturday March 18.

Families and friends came together to Johnson St with smiles on their faces.

Maffra Agricultural Show float.

From 4pm, the family fun day had entertainment, amusement rides and street stalls for people to experience, as well as the parade of floats, which started at 6pm. The theme this year was ‘The Circus’.

It was a hot, yet cloudy late afternoon, so thankfully there was plenty of cool drink and ice cream options at the small business stalls from across the region on Johnson St. Hot food options, or something different like fairy floss, honey or art stalls meant there was plenty to eat and even more to see. Businesses on that street also stayed open – a great showcase of Maffra’s hard workers.

Maffra Mardi Gras Committee Member Claire Cochrane said she was happy with the turnout.

Part of the Maffra Primary School float.

“There were crowds of people around the street stalls, especially the food stalls, and crowds lining the street all the way between the two roundabouts cheering the parade,” Ms Cochrane said.

“Everyone was having fun … and so many people, including adults, dressed up in circus costumes. There was a really good atmosphere of people out and about, enjoying themselves.”

Ms Cochrane said the community groups and schools clearly put a huge amount of effort into their floats.

Jan Robbins, winner of the Rotary Club of Maffra Mardi Gras 2023, entrant for the Maffra Golf Club. 

“The outstanding one was from Maffra Primary School, but for a small kinder Briagolong Early Learning Centre did an amazing job, as did St Mary’s and Boisdale Primary schools,” she said.

“St Mary’s won the school float section, but Maffra Primary won the overall prize and the Liz Shepherd Trophy for the best overall float.”

Jade Marshall and David Hollis. 

The Maffra Women’s Shed, the Maffra Agricultural Show and the Maffra Golf Club also had outstanding community floats. Some schools and other organisations had walking groups, with creative costumes.

While there were trucks and tractors, Ms Cochrane said she would have liked to have seen more floats from businesses.

Maffra Women’s/Men’s Shed float.

“Maybe some of them could decorate their trucks according to the Mardi Gras theme? Businesses are generally too busy to get a float together, but the Arthur Watts Trophy was introduced because of a request from the Maffra Business and Tourism Committee, so it is disappointing that there were no entries,” she said.

New to the Mardi Gras this year was the free ‘Kids’ Corner’, as was the huge amount of prize money for the floats.

Mini Golf from MJ’s Playhouse, Rosedale, was a hit at the Kids’ Corner.

The committee thanked the sponsorship received from Wellington Shire and several Maffra businesses, which enabled them to put on the kids’ corner, musical entertainment, a better PA system and the mad juggling unicyclist.

Maffra Golf Club float.

Ms Cochrane said the feedback from the community had been very positive.

“The kids’ corner was hugely successful, with queues for face painting, and the mini golf and petting zoo were definitely a hit with the kids. Everyone enjoyed the music from the Maffra Stage Band and Tayla Clavarino, and the carnival rides were very popular. The committee has received many messages of support and congratulations,” she said.

“The committee are hoping to continue to build on the success of the Mardi Gras next year, with the support of the Community Bank, Maffra and Wellington Shire Council. We are excited ourselves to see what the theme will be!

The Sellings family, Julian, Mary, Pam and Anna enjoying the Mardi Gras.

“However, the Rotary Club of Maffra is a very small club, and the five of us who organised the event, with helpers, are in need of extra help for next year as two of us will be away for most of the planning time. We need three or four members of the community to step up and help to continue the successful event of this year.

“Rotary oversees the event, but it doesn’t have to be just Rotarians organising it.”

The Rotary Club of Maffra Mardi Gras is one of the longest running events in the Wellington Shire, beginning in 1957 when a group of Maffra businessmen wanted to raise money for the Maffra Hospital.

Anyone interested in helping out the committee can email them on rcmafframardigras@gmail.com

St Mary’s Primary School float.
Briagolong Early Learning Centre float.
Maffra Stage Band.
Crowds grabbing food after the parade.
Maffra Golf Club float.
Part of the Maffra Golf Club float.
The Sale RSL Pipe Band.
Boisdale Consolidated School. Photo: Stefan Bradley
The theme was The Circus, and many showed up in costume.