The ‘Shearers’ and Shed Staff’ Reunion will not only honour legends of the Australian Wool Industry but reunite great mates.
As a farm kid, there was nothing better than racing home from the school bus at shearing time to see what delicious treats were leftover from smoko. Although, as you got older you realised there was something even better than leftover jelly and custard trifle – the shearing shed cut out! Be it Bobby, Smithy or Jack – the names may have been local, but the stories and the characters could be found in any shearing team in any country town.
Darkan Sheepfest 2020 is extending an open invitation to anyone who worked in shearing sheds within the Shire of West Arthur. This special event is to provide the opportunity for them all to return,
reconnect and remember but more importantly for us to hear their history.
Darkan Sheepfest Committee member, Michael Goss, has been proud to be involved in organising the reunion and explains –
“Riding on the sheep’s back, our history shows that merino sheep formed the backbone of our district. Harvesting the wool required both shearers and shed staff. Over the years there have been hundreds of these people working in the sheds and living in our community. The idea of a
shearing reunion has been talked about by the Sheepfest committee since its first year and it was just a natural progression that we pay tribute to everyone that has contributed to this thriving industry. So, we have settled on the idea of having a simple get together for a ‘morning smoko’
that will no doubt finish off with a cut out!”
This year, Darkan Sheepfest will be held on Saturday 8th February 2020 at the town oval, commencing at 9.30am. The event will continue to maintain its strong reputation as a ‘good old-fashioned grass roots
country show’ and again make the commitment to provide a fun family day out for just a gold coin donation.
Two new events that should attract more participants and crowds are the Wool Handling competition and the ‘Best Pet Sheep’ which ultimately will be sashed ‘Darkan Sheepfest Supreme Champion Pet’. However, a very exciting event involving sheep and Darkan is to be held just prior to Sheepfest and has seen one shearer working harder in the shearing shed than ever before. Josh Clayton will be attempting to break the solo eight-hour merino ewe shearing world record on the 18th January 2020 at South’s ‘Cowrabundie Farm’. Given it will be Josh’s second attempt at the world record, it is testament to how hard-working and determined shearers can be.
Josh elaborates on the motivation behind his record attempt –
“My father was a shearing contractor and we had a sheep farm, so I guess shearing was always going to be an obvious choice for me. My world record attempt really came about working and learning from some of the best in the industry and them telling me that I was good enough and that I should have a go. I did enjoy sport at school and had been in a few triathlons, so the nutrition, training and discipline required was not going to be a problem. But you soon discover that a world record attempt is certainly a team effort and you need a big support crew, I can’t thank them enough. The Souths and everyone I have met along the way, have been fantastic especially my sponsor. I learned so much with my first attempt, so hopefully, I will have a good chance this time around and everyone in Darkan is most welcome to come and see me try.”
The same sentiment of being confident to have a go could be said about Darkan Sheepfest and what it has achieved in the last three years. There is always plenty of hard work and time spent organising these types of shows. A full program has been finalised with the return of popular events including the notorious Farm Boot Foot Race, entertaining Young Farmer Challenge and highly anticipated Sport Shear Competition.
Shire of West Arthur President, Kevin King, knows first-hand the benefits that Darkan Sheepfest will bring to the small country town –
“Shows like these are good for both the community and our Shire. I know that it is a lot of work to organise the event, but to see everyone enjoying themselves on the day and visitors to our town being able to learn about sheep and wool, benefiting our whole industry, it is worth all the
Free entertainment will continue all day and into the night concluding with the ‘Sundowner Baa’, which should keep everyone well and truly happy. However, the committee concedes that not all days are going to be happy and therefore Darkan Sheepfest continues to be a strong advocate and supporter of mental health organisations and projects operating in rural Australia.
Continuing from the Black Dog Ride and Dolly’s Dream in previous years; this year Darkan Sheepfest will be promoting The Blue Tree Project. From tragic circumstances, Jayden Whyte is now the inspiration behind blue painted trees seen around the state and the catalyst to start having open conversations about depression and anxiety. What better place to start having these conversations than at Darkan Sheepfest!
RSVPs have already started to roll in for the ‘Shearers’ and Shed Staff Reunion’. Paul Kirk, ex-local and retired shearer, is planning to come back and see what it’s all about.
Paul comments –
“I had some of the best years working as a shearer and at the time made some really good mates. I’d tell any young person to have a go at working in the sheds at least one time in their life. The work is hard, the money is good, but the stories told are even better.”
Darkan Sheepfest 2020 is shaping up to be one event that should not to be missed!
For further information or other high-res images please contact Karlene Goss at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0428 361 366.