ONE of the organisers of annual charity debutante balls at Kerang has refuted claims that alcohol is a key factor in couples choosing where they make their social debut.
Waterwonderland co-founder, Joyce Gee said that comments about her organisation's debutante balls were "an attack on the youth."
Mrs Gee was responding to comments by Kerang and District Agricultural Society secretary, Tracy Roberts, who lamented the involvement of alcohol as the society struggled to attract sufficient numbers to stage this year's scheduled debutante ball on May 18.
"It is very, very sad that 83 years of history will go down the gurgler because we will not lower our standards and serve alcohol at our debutante ball," Mrs Roberts said.
Society ball organisers had three couples who have confirmed to take part, but needed at least another two couples to commit by 12 noon on Friday to ensure the event will proceed.
The failure to attract more couples led to the society reluctantly deciding on Friday to abandon plans for a debutante ball this year.
Mrs Roberts has indicated that a replacement event would be considered next year.
Mrs Gee said that the Waterwonderland balls had started 30 years ago to give young people a choice."It's no different to choosing a football or netball team," she said.
She said that 20 girls had registered for this year's balls. Her organisation has held two functions annually, except for two years when it staged only one, to provide smaller numbers of debutantes to maintain an intimate number and ensure it was a special night for the couples and their families.
"We have a picnic cabaret and, yes, some parents bring alcohol, but others have soft drink and we have tea and coffee," she said.
"Attacking our standards is wrong. We have had three Miss Australias and many high-profile people [receiving the debutantes].
"I feel that our youth are our future and they can choose where they go.
"We give them a choice of colours, the theme [for their ball]; it's a freedom of choice."
Mrs Gee said that her committee worked for the town and gave back to the town, donating $8000 last year.
Mrs Roberts said that the society's traditional debutante balls had attracted close to 40 debutantes in one year during its heyday, but she acknowledged that it had struggled in the past few years due to the popularity of the Waterwonderland debutante balls, held in July each year.