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Big grins...Mataura school couple Jessica Coates (7) and Livai Porima (8) take a break from dancing on Saturday. PHOTO: LUCY MCDONOUGH

Ballroom dancers travelled from as far as Auckland to the Southland Festival of Dance on Saturday.

The festival was held at the Gore Town & Country Club and drew more than 500 spectators and dancers, compere and organiser Rachel Ferguson said.

Dancers attended from as far away as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Ms Ferguson said, while judges also travelled long distances to attend the annual competition.

“It was amazing. It was huge,” Ms Ferguson said.

“There were lots and lots of people there and all of the competitors from in and out of town loved it.

“They say it’s the best-organised competition they go to.”

Ms Ferguson said the number of spectators was up on past years.

“People know it’s a great event to go to now.”

More than 100 children competed in the school section. West Gore, Gore Main, and Mataura School all attended. West Gore won overall, but Ms Ferguson said each school had won a placing.

The majority of dancers from The Rachel Studio Of Dance competed on Saturday.

“The whole studio was amazing. We had a few new partnerships out there that did well .. they were all little stars.

“We did have a formation team from the studio, with 12 members, with choreography that was put together by a studio member .. they went out there and won that, which was great.

Other winners were: King of the ballroom, Dylan Wyatt; queen of the ballroom, Steviemarie Higham; prince of the ballroom, Ben Heaps (14) Gore; princess of the ballroom, Willow Brunton (7) Gore.