Rachael crowned

A busy Opal Festival has brought lots of tourists and visitors to town.

The Festival started last Thursday July 26 with the stall holders at the Lightning Ridge Bowling Club.

There was a great variety in the wares being sold from clothing, the annual belt and sock man, the curry man, the tool man and lots of opal

and jewellery from the various opal fields.

Thursday morning saw the walkers from White Cliffs arrive in town with a celebration at the Black Opal Heritage Shed at the Three Mile that night.

On Friday evening the Bowling Club was rocking with the 50's and 60's Flashback

Throughout the weekend was the magnificent International Opal Jewellery Design Awards Association Trade Show, with some of the

best opal in the world on show and for sale.

Saturday entertainment for young and old was the Ëljay Freestyle Entertainment Show with very skilled motorbike riders doing their stuff.

For the art buffs there were two galleries with art exhibitions; the Lightning Ridge ArtSpace showing John Weeronga Bartoo's Land of Dreams, and at the Lightning Ridge Arts and Crafts Jennifer Bult with her Turning Point exhibition.

Saturday evening heralded the Annual Opal Queen Ball.

The evening was opened by Councillor Ian Woodcock and was compered by the lovely Jo Hackett.

After much deliberation judges Karen, Eddie and Maureen from Canberra finally agreed upon the 2012 Opal Queen.

Eleven entrants, sponsored by the local business houses, looked fabulous gracing the catwalk in their amazing gowns, and the outstanding opal jewellery belonging to some of the Lightning Ridge opal jewellery shops.

The girls received lots of whistles and cheering from the crowd.

Rachael Turner was thrilled to be chosen Opal Queen 2012 and won an opal pendant from Sherman Opals, with other prizes including a trip to the Gold Coast and the ACT Race Track, where the Black Opal Stakes are run, along with other prizes.

Rachael thanked the judges on their decision and said she would be proud to represent the opal industry.

Belinda Buckley took out second place and also received the people's choice award.

Belinda received a cheque for $500 to go to her chosen charity. She chose $250 to go to the Lightning Ridge Pre School and $250 to the Australian Opal Centre.

Third place went to Brook Holland.

The theme of the night was Bollywood and there were some amazing fancy dress costumes.

Organiser of the festival Angela Myers said it was a very successful weekend.

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