Despite heavy dust storms and a heat wave on Friday 6 September, the community of St. George in South West Queensland soldiered on to deliver their biennial event, the Multicultural River Dragon Festival, in a bid to lift community spirits during drought.

The local community threw out the welcome mat inviting visitors a to join them for dragon boat racing, water skiing demonstrations, multicultural food grazing, country markets, street parade, retro cars and live entertainment, including Wendy Matthews. The community festival, which was started as an homage to the town’s namesake, has grown to celebrate the various aspects of the St George and wider Balonne Shire community, help raise funds for local causes and act as a chance for the community to come together during tough times.

One of the festival highlights included water skiing demonstrations by the under 17 water skiing world champion Sade Ferguson. Sade and her sister, Molly Ferguson, herald from Roma, just 2 hours north of St. George. Thanks to the Balonne River still flowing with water, it gives the world champion skiers the opportunity to train year-round.

In celebration of the region’s multicultural community, the festival is included a Multicultural Grazing Table where visitors were invited to sample free foods cooked by local community, including slow cooked south pacific meats, local yabbies and Greek and Russian deserts. Live entertainment included celebrated ARIA Award winning music star Wendy Matthews, country musician Drew McAlister and classic Celtic trio, Munster Bucks.

“We are so thankful to those who could make the festival. Visitors helped to raise nearly $400 for the Men’s Shed and other local charities. It also brought much needed injection for our local businesses and most importantly something happy for our local community to experience,” said festival organiser and Care Balonne Manager, Robyn Fuhrmeister. “The faces on the children in the Child Protection Colour Run really says it all.”

“We can’t thank everyone enough. To those who travelled from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and south from Coffs Harbour, to the local sponsors and community groups and representatives who volunteered and helped to stage the event. We are so very grateful for all their help,” said Robyn Fuhrmeister.