Sunday’s Carols By Candlelight attracted its biggest ever crowd, and organisers say it’s all due to improved community partnerships.

Carols coordinator George Maddison said SunRice’s sponsorship of the event coincided with it being held in conjunction with the Edward River Council Community Christmas Party two years ago, and said it has ‘‘made all the difference’’.

‘‘We had an unbelievable crowd — by far the biggest we’ve had,’’ Mr Maddison said of the twilight event, which is organised by Deniliquin Rotary.

‘‘It’s hard to get an exact figure on attendance, but I would say it was 15 to 20 per cent up on last year.

‘‘I saw people driving around for quite a while trying to find a parking spot.

‘‘Over the last two years, since SunRice came on board, the event has just exploded. And since it became part of the Community Christmas Party.

‘‘I was really pleased with all the performers — Eimear Gogarty is particularly a real talent. To sing in front of a big band and crowd like that at her age is amazing.’’

Celebrity compere Pete Denahy also worked well with the event, and he even joined local band The Smoking Gun later in the night on the fiddle.

‘‘We now have a lot of good ideas to workshop to make it even bigger and better next year.

‘‘I want to thank all our sponsors, particularly SunRice who even in their current climate have been strong supporters.’’

Carols followed an equally successful Community Christmas Party hosted by Edward River Council, with Santa a very special guest at both.

Mayor Norm Brennan said it was great to see so many people enjoying the festivities.

“Council’s Community and Economic Development team put an enormous amount of effort into planning and executing the event, and we were very impressed with the strong turnout at both the Community Christmas Party and SunRice Carols by Candlelight, as well as the positive feedback we received from attendees and event suppliers,’’ Cr Brennan said,

“Anecdotal reports indicate that more than 700 people attended the event and over 110 kids had a photo with Santa Claus, and both of those figures are well above last year’s recorded figures, which is terrific,” he said.

‘‘This is the second consecutive year council has worked with Rotary to deliver a combined event, and the strong crowds and positive feedback suggest clearly that the approach works, so it’s certainly something we will look at continuing in 2019.’’