Deni Ute Muster, the original celebration of rural life, the ute and country music attracted nearly 20,000 fans from across the country to the normally quiet Riverina town.
Kicking off the Friday night’s music was Doug Bruce and the Tailgaters, warming the building crowd up for Kirsty Lee Akers before Gord Bamford hit the stage to rapturous applause.
Australia’s country sweetheart Kasey Chambers then hit the stage, and recalled that her first time at Deni Ute Muster, in its 2nd or 3rd year, was also one of the first times she performed I’m Not Pretty Enough in her set and the crowd knew all the words, a watershed moment in her career.
Crowd favourite, roy Cassar-Daley, then took the stage for a singalong of his greatest hits before the hardworking Thirsty Merc, belted out a parade of hits to a sea of happy Musterers.
International superstar Carrie Underwood, who played her only full concert in Australia on this tour, performed a string of old and new from Jesus Take The Wheel to songs from her recently released Billboard #1 album, Cry Pretty.
Both days provided plenty of action on the Sports Arena with Circlework and the Barrel Races sending up plumes of dust to roaring crowds while the slightly less dramatic Go to Wo, Show ‘n Shine and Best Ute competitions kept rev heads entertained across the weekend.
The weekend included 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 the Barham team taking out first prize of $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, with 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.
Speaking of dating, 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.
The Deni Ute Muster holds two Guinness World Records - one for the most number of blue singlets worn at the one time, and the greatest number of utility vehicles gathered in the one place. This year’s Blue Single Count was an impressive 2,998 and organisers counted in excess of 7,000 utes around the ground.
Deni Ute Muster General Manager, Vicky Lowry, said the 20th celebrations have made the 2018 Deni Ute Muster one to remember.
"We would like to thank our major sponsors and partners, Destination NSW, Edward River Council, Bundaberg, Iron Jack, Decentralised Demountables, Deniliquin Freighters, Purtills, Central IGA Deniliquin, Isuzu, GME, CAT Workwear and Sunrice for their continued support.''