GOLDEN HORSESHOES: Town's wildest night turns into most joyous occasion

Beechworth’s Henry McCormick made sure he had pole position on Ford Street for the parade on Saturday. Pictures: DYLAN ROBINSON
Beechworth’s Henry McCormick made sure he had pole position on Ford Street for the parade on Saturday. Pictures: DYLAN ROBINSON
Beechworth’s Emily and Ute Jeffcott, Michelle and Laura Panagopoulos, of Wodonga and Elise Meyrich, of Geelong, dress for the occasion.

Beechworth’s Emily and Ute Jeffcott, Michelle and Laura Panagopoulos, of Wodonga and Elise Meyrich, of Geelong, dress for the occasion.

The Beechworth Bakery truck made its usual appearance with Tegan Williams throwing lollies to the crowd.

The Beechworth Bakery truck made its usual appearance with Tegan Williams throwing lollies to the crowd.

THE festival celebrating the wildest night in Beechworth’s history has become the town’s most joyous day.

More than 20,000 people lined the streets, stood on balconies, perched on window sills or hung from poles to watch Saturday’s Golden Horseshoes Festival grand parade.

The procession recreates an event from 1855 when an aspiring politician rode into town on a horse with golden horseshoes on the eve of the first election in the area. It worked — he was elected the next day.

This year Chinese dancers shimmied and twirled down Ford Street, followed by stilt walkers, giant bees, vintage cars, school-aged pirates, Country Women’s Association fairies and the Easter bunny.

Owner of the George Walk bed and breakfast, Jill Jarvis-Wills, who watched from a balcony, said people booked year on year for the festival.

“Last year was good but they’ve surpassed that,” she said.

“It creates a real togetherness in town.

“The visitors feel it and that’s important.”

The highlight for Ms Jarvis-Wills was the re-enactment of the horse of that early politician, Daniel Cameron, being shod with golden shoes.

Indigo Shire education officer Keith Warren, dressed appropriately, told the crowd the shoes all those years ago were valued at $1.4 million in today’s money.

“It was the wildest 24 hours in Beechworth’s history,” he said.

“It was an ostentatious show of wealth.”

Mr Warren said 10,000 drunken miners had taken over the town, drinking free beer until dawn.

His suggestion to improve next year’s festival was to reintroduce the free grog.

“Let’s really get into the spirit of it,” he said.

Organiser and Beechworth Honey owner Jodie Goldsworthy said the crowd was bigger and feedback positive.

“Everyone has come and really enjoyed themselves,” she said.

Mrs Goldsworthy, who is opening a second Ford Street store — Beechworth Honey Discovery — in spring, said her highlight had been the new market on Saturday night.

“There was fabulous food and great music,” she said. “It was a really nice to sit and unwind.”

The festival began on Good Friday and continues today with a Wooragee Easter market from 10am to 2pm.

Education officer Keith Warren with Kilmore Farrier Gordan Nash, horse Quanby Kyeema and Corowa's Craig Hancock.

Education officer Keith Warren with Kilmore Farrier Gordan Nash, horse Quanby Kyeema and Corowa's Craig Hancock.

The Easter Bunny walks down Ford Street.

The Easter Bunny walks down Ford Street.

The Easter Bunny walks down Ford Street.

The Easter Bunny walks down Ford Street.

Corowa's Craig Hancock rides horse Quanby Kyeema down Ford Street.

Corowa's Craig Hancock rides horse Quanby Kyeema down Ford Street.

Kilmore Farrier Gordan Nash with Corowa's Craig Hancock riding horse Quanby Kyeema down Ford Street.

Kilmore Farrier Gordan Nash with Corowa's Craig Hancock riding horse Quanby Kyeema down Ford Street.

 Beechworth Bakery's morph suit man throws lollies to the crowd.

Beechworth Bakery's morph suit man throws lollies to the crowd.

 Beechworth Bakery's morph suit man throws lollies to the crowd.

Beechworth Bakery's morph suit man throws lollies to the crowd.

Crowds line Ford Street for the parade.

Crowds line Ford Street for the parade.

The parade passes through the main round-about on Ford Street.

The parade passes through the main round-about on Ford Street.

Vintage cars parade down Ford Street.

Vintage cars parade down Ford Street.

A tractor parades down Ford Street.

A tractor parades down Ford Street.