Ute Musters are a particularly Australian festival. They are often held in conjunction with local shows or country music festivals. They are held in many towns around rural Australia and celebrate the iconic Australian vehicle, the ute (short for utility vehicle). The Deniliquin Ute Muster is the largest festival of this type in the world. The 14th Deni Ute Muster was held last weekend and, despite rainy conditions, attracted a crowd of 15,000 people. While the event focuses on the ute, having the Ute of the Year competition, Show 'n Shine, the National Circle Works Championships, the Holden Grunt Off and Ute barrel races, the event had everything.
Ute enthusiasts can often be obsessive with their vehicles and add extras such as stickers, aerials, driving lights and bull bars. But many are also polished until they glow and the owners have them expertly painted and detailed. The Ute of the Year competition is for the best of the best and is a very prestigious award. Utes are judged on their body and paint work, interior trim, under carriage, tub condition, customisation and modification and their general presentation. This is a chance for owners to show their vehicle at its best and there are a number of different categories in which prizes are awarded.
|Circle work in the main arena.|
|A close finish in one of the Go to Wo races.|
However the weekend wasn't all about utes. There was an array of events with a country carnival flavour. The first I saw was the Duck Fashion parade. Yes, ducks were walking the cat walk in a variety of fashion outfits, including a bride and groom outfit. The more traditional were sheep dog displays, tractor pulling, whip cracking competitions, bull riding, wood chopping, swag throwing, wrestling and magic acts. There was also a fly over by the airforce aerobatic team and stunt motorcyclists jumping in the arena.
There were also two world record attempts. The first was for the greatest number of legally registered utes gathered in a parade at one time. The record was set at the Deni Muster in 2010 when 10,152 gathered. However this year the number of people attending was a little less than expected and with only around 6,000 utes, so the record stayed unbroken. The second record was for the most number of people wearing blue singlets. The record was also set at the Deni Muster in 2010 and still stands at 3,500 people.
|A small part of the camping grounds.|
|A relaxing atmosphere.|
|Competitor in the tractor pull.|
|On the way to the 'blue singlet' record attempt.|
|Young competitor in the whip cracking competition.|
|Ute doing circle work.|
|More circle work stunts.|
|Smoking up the tyres.|