What an incredible achievement for Darkan! No-one could ever have imagined that over one thousand people would go through the gates on Saturday 10th February for the inaugural Darkan Sheepfest.
Was it due to all the hard work of the committee and sub-committees in less than 13 weeks? Or to some novelty marketing ideas (e.g. the Sheepfest wool-bales…now that was hard work)? Or is it that people nowadays are really looking to go back to that grass roots country show where everyone can have a good time without any big costs?
The Sport Shear competition drew a large crowd and some of the best competitors in the state. This competition is part of the statewide annual circuit with the outright winners of the year being state representatives for the National competition.
Shaun Counsel from Warrening Gully, Williams, had the best ewe-hoggets. Local novice models were a hit on the catwalk. Free entertainment all day was the family drawcard. To see city kids playing so happily and being welcomed by our local kids is something they will always remember and our community should be so proud of.
The Sundowner bar didn’t expect one thousand people at the first Sheepfest either and therefore relocated to the air-conditioned sports club. Everyone was entertained by the great band Feather & Down and the not-so-great local who had a turn with their microphone and ruined a perfectly good Cold Chisel song (although still very entertaining!)
One special moment our community should be very proud of is their support of the #blackdogride. It is fair to say it is far easier to get a story on prime time news about a small town and sheep than it is to raise awareness of mental health. Incredibly, Darkan Sheepfest raised more money for #blackdogride and had more people visit their stand than the Perth Royal Show! Maybe we really do, do it better in the country! For that our whole community should be commended.
So Darkan is now well and truly on the map! The media coverage the Darkan Sheepfest received is still hard to believe. ABC Great Southern Radio & TV, Farm Weekly, Countryman, 6PR Perth, GWN News, Collie Mail, Narrogin Observer; they all wanted to tell the Sheepfest Story. We have heard it even made it to the eastern states and was mentioned by Alan Jones on Sydney radio station 2GB! There are even more media articles in the pipeline so stay tuned.
Now is the time to say a big THANKYOU to those who supported the Darkan Sheepfest and there are so many to fit in we needed to change the font size! To our sponsors for putting your dollars towards a first-time event with a possible risk of no return for your dollar: your generosity is what enabled over one thousand people through the gate for just a gold coin donation. To our community contributors, both cash donation and in-kind (equating to cash): your contribution was remarkable in its generosity but it inspired the committee to keep working hard because they felt so supported. To the pink ladies and the blue men (sub-committees) who were walking sponsor billboards, walking ambassadors and information booths and were gophers, multi-taskers, free labourers: the show would not ever go on without you all. To the community, you have all played a part in the success of Darkan Sheepfest: you came along to support it, you invited your friends and you said “great job well done.” Finally to the inaugural Darkan Sheepfest committee of only just 6; Sarah Buscumb, Teleah Higgie, Jodie King, Nathan King, Julie McFall, and Pam Stockley: you are all amazing! To not only volunteer your time to go along to an Enterprising Communities workshop facilitated by the Shire of West Arthur and Regional Development Australia – Wheatbelt, but to then spend all of your Christmas, New Year and January with ‘All Things Sheep & More’ demonstrates your commitment and showcases volunteering in this community at its best.