The first festival was held on 12 March 1953. Run by the Greater Ballarat Association and facilitated by the Department of Education, it was known as the Ballaarat Begonia Festival. A parade of 6,000 students witnessed by 20,000 was held in the city, including the Begonia Dance and other folkdances and crowning of the "Queen of the Begonias", trade displays and songs from the Ballarat choir. 100,000 begonia plants were placed in planter boxes along the city's main streets and the civic centre at Alfred Hall on Grenville Street was used as an exhibition space for the first flower show.
The second Begonia Festival featured a visit from the Queen With Alfred Hall having been damaged by fire, the floral displays moved from the city centre to the Botanic Gardens. The Begonia Festival was a still a big deal when I came to Ballarat. The floral garden was the big attraction then. It is not so big nowadays and is run by the City and the Friends of the Gardens with a strong emphasis on kids and families.
I made my annual pilgrimage to the gardens today and took some photos below. Photos include the greenhouse, pond, sandpit, tea house,cardboard castles, Lego begonia and the photo below of the old man with the grey beard.