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Ute Muster founder returns to helm

Kate Pitt has been appointed the general manager of the Deniliquin Play on the Plains Ltd.

January 24, 2014 4:30am

The woman who came up with the idea of having a World Record Ute Muster in Deniliquin is coming back to take the helm of the iconic event.

A delighted Deniliquin Play on the Plains Ltd Chairman, Harold Clapham, announced yesterday that Kate Pitt had been appointed its new general manager.

‘‘There is not a person on earth with the same passion for the Ute Muster as Kate Pitt. I know many people have a unique bond with our event, but Kate takes it to a different level.

‘‘Our board is ecstatic that Kate has accepted our request to return as General Manager,’’ Mr Clapham said.

Mr Clapham also announced two new appointments to the Play on the Plains Ltd Board of Directors – Ashley Hall and Justine Keech.

‘‘Ashley and Justine will be valuable additions to the board and will fill the existing vacancies with their range of business and community skills,’’ Mr Clapham said.

‘‘Kate, Ashley and Justine join a team which is committed to continue growing both our festivals – the Ute Muster and Blues & Roots – to establish them as the most successful regional festivals in Australia,’’ he added.

Kate Pitt is no stranger to playing a key role in festival development in Deniliquin.

She was at the first meeting when ideas to develop a festival to ‘put Deniliquin on the map’ were discussed in March 1999, then came up with the concept of establishing a world record for the most number of utes gathered at the one time.

Kate persevered with staff at Guinness World Records in London who didn’t even know what a ‘ute’ looked like, until Kate faxed a photo to them.

Eventually, Guinness accepted the world record request, but this came after Kate Pitt and members of the original committee had convinced thousands of ute owners from across the nation to converge on Deniliquin for the first ‘World Record Ute Muster’.

In 2004 Kate accepted the position as Festival Co-ordinator and in her first year the event gained international publicity thanks to a parade by Brian Harrington’s ducks at a launch she organised in Federation Square, Melbourne.

Also among Kate’s initiatives that year were the World Record Blue Singlet competition (which was broken again in 2013) and the Bull Ride Spectacular which has become another Ute Muster staple.

After she left the employ of the event, Kate’s commitment was recognised when she was presented with a Ute Muster Champion Award.

However, Kate said these achievements are in the past and her immediate priority would be concentrating on increasing ticket sales for the Deni Blues & Roots Festival at Easter.

‘‘I’m excited to be back at the helm and thank Harold Clapham and his board for giving me the opportunity,’’ Kate said.

‘‘Our second Deni Blues & Roots Festival is just around the corner, so ensuring its success is my first priority. It is also vital that we build on the success of last year’s record breaking Deni Ute Muster.

‘‘My mantra has always been working in tandem with the community to make our events successful and that’s what I will be doing again.

‘‘These are Deniliquin’s events ... they belong to our town and it is vital that we all work together to ensure their success,’’ Kate said.

She added a number of marketing initiatives would be introduced in coming weeks in an effort to boost ticket sales for the Deni Blues & Roots Festival but at this stage nothing was more important than local people buying their tickets and encouraging friends and relatives to do the same.

‘‘If you have not bought your tickets to the Festival, or have friends or relatives who have not bought their tickets, please do so. And if you can offer accommodation, contact the Peppin Heritage Centre.

‘‘We need to increase ticket sales and get more accommodation for our visitors.

‘‘These will be my top two priorities in my first few weeks and any help I can get from our fantastic local community would be greatly appreciated,’’ Kate said.

This year the Deni Blues & Roots Festival features a stellar line-up of international and local acts including John Mayer, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Doobie Brothers, Boz Scaggs, Gary Clark Jr and many more.

The Deni Blues & Roots Festival takes place on Easter Weekend, Saturday and Sunday April 19 and 20, 2014. Tickets are now on sale from the Deni Blues & Roots Festival office or www.denibluesfestival.com.

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