HUNDREDS of Wimmera people joined celebrations for the Karen New Year at Nhill on Saturday.
Community member John Millington, who attended, estimated up to 500 people were at Nhill Memorial Community Centre for the festivities.
From 10am until 2pm, Karen performers danced, sang and shared food.
“The amount of work and effort they put in was just spectacular,” he said.
“They went to work all week last week and practised every night through the heat.
“The community centre was kind enough to let them practise there, in the cool air-conditioning.”
For Mr Millington, it was a traditional bamboo dance that stole the show.
Hindmarsh Mayor Rob Gersch was equally impressed by the dance, which called for precise co-ordination and strength while artistically navigating an arrangement of bamboo poles.
“The community centre was completely full, downstairs and upstairs,” Cr Gersch said.
“It was very strongly supported by the community of Nhill and district, and there were many Karen visitors.”
Mr Millington said there might have been more people attend, had it not been for the heatwave and the fires.
The closure of the Western Highway dissuaded several visitors from making the journey from Melbourne to Nhill.
Member for Mallee Andrew Broad and his wife Rachel flew into the region to celebrate with the Karen community.
Mr Millington said the Karen people appreciated the opportunity to get to know their federal representative.
“They understand the importance of having representation in parliament because they have come from a military rule, not a democracy,” he said.
“They appreciated the significance of having Andrew there to support them.”