DESPITE the persistent drought, or perhaps because of it, Kilkivan Great Horse Ride event organisers are confident next weekend's muster of trail riders, campers and spectators will be a huge success.
President Steve Horseman said yesterday he and his management team had been heartened by the strong, unexpected support of many locals who have gone beyond the usual level of contribution to help ensure the event's success.
"Every day now we are receiving offers from locals which demonstrate the fantastic spirit that's still alive and well around here, despite the recent lousy weather pattern," he said.
"From the local camping ground owners who have made their premises available for a trail lunch site - despite it being one of their biggest weekends of the year - to the people baking extra quantities of goodies for the trail smokos and the craftspeople rallying their neighbours for extra display items while they are all also adversely affected by the drought, we are witnessing a wonderful display of country generosity.
"It will allow us to showcase just what's remarkable about the Kilkivan community."
After the postponement of the annual event earlier in the year, due to the dry conditions then, many have been anticipating that cancellation of one of Queensland's largest trail ride gatherings was imminent. However, that hasn't been on the radar of organisers.
"We had tremendous levels of re-commitment in March for the September date by entertainers, stall operators, property owners and many others - with that loyalty to our event, we were determined to deliver a great event this Spring for everyone," said Mr Horseman.
Kurandah Trail boss and management team member Vern Berry believes that regardless of what the weather does between now and next weekend, all riders can be assured of a special experience.
"We have chosen trails that offer really wonderful views: the Kurandah Trail goes through three private properties so access at any other time is not available.
"Plus the view from the highest point back towards Kilkivan over the Wide Bay Creek valley is sensational. And riders on the trails starting from Widgee Showgrounds are in for a treat - that scenery is quite spectacular."
The street program on Saturday offers heaps of free attractions, especially for children: pony rides, an animal nursery, jumping castle and tie dye workshop are all free, while adults can grab great food and drinks while enjoying some special features - restored horse-drawn wagons, classic cars, dog retrieving demonstrations and heaps of stalls to browse.
Plus the aptly-named president believes the Grand Parade of Horses at 4pm Saturday is not to be missed: "It is a sight that should be on everyone's bucket list," said Mr Horseman.
Throughout the weekend there is free, live music at both the Kilkivan showgrounds and in town.