All roads led to Deniliquin for the 20th birthday Ute Muster on Friday and Saturday, as it attracted about 18,000 people to the Conargo Rd site.
The numbers were boosted by international superstar Carrie Underwood, who was the headliner on Saturday night in her only full concert performance while in Australia.
Muster general manager Vicky Lowry said the vast majority of Muster-goers made their way to Deniliquin early this year, showing just how keen they were for the big event.
‘‘We had 11,000 people come through the gates on Thursday, which we were overwhelmed by,’’ Mrs Lowry said.
‘‘We’ve received so many positive comments, but one negative was the time it took to get in the gates (on Thursday).
‘‘Safety is the big priority for us, and it does take time to search the utes and make sure there’s nothing coming in that will jeopardise that safety.
‘‘We also saw so many more families coming this year, and people with caravans, so that took a bit of extra time to search.
‘‘We will be looking at ways to make that better for next year, because being our 21st we do think it will be another big one.
‘‘This year was a big weekend and a lot of fun, and planning is already underway for next year.’’
The Deni Ute Muster is a celebration of contemporary Australian rural life where the ute is king.
And while the music was a highlight of the event, the Ute Muster is about so much more.
It’s an all Aussie extravaganza including wood chopping and whip cracking demonstrations, the Bull Ride Spectacular, Brophy Bros Circus, Bob the Butcher, Peter Hodge Camel Rides, World Champion Sand Sculptor Dennis Massoud, the Australian Ride on Lawn Mower Racing Association’s Lawn Mower Races and the Shimano Fishing Tank Show.
This year’s CAT Tradie Challenge was won by a team of Barham and Wakool residents, taking out first prize and a cool $1000 cash each for their corrugated security huts which will grace the Muster site in years to come.
The Muster introduced Speed Dating for the first time, thanks to this year’s charity partner Can Assist, with close to 200 attendees looking for love, or at least a new friend, on Thursday and Friday.
The 2018 ‘The Batchelor’ Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins dropped in on Friday where he held court in the Iron Jack Bar and met many new ‘friends’ as he wandered around the site. He was also a guest speaker at the annual chairman’s reception.