Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest President, Jodie King, cannot have more passion for sheep, wool and involving young Australians in the industry.
“I’m so excited to see The Next Generation Hub at Sheepfest this year. There are so many young people getting involved in the wool industry, this is our future for the next 50 years and I think it is in very capable hands!”
The Next Generation Hub is set to be a buzzing meeting place for youth at Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest. There will be interactive activities as well as industry representatives present for meet and greet opportunities. These include Rural Ambassadors and Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia Next Gen Committee members Lauren Patane and Chloe Blight, WA Shearing Ambassadors, and Western Australian College of Agriculture representatives.
The 2024 Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest will focus on The Next Generation – reaching out to all Young Australians to ignite their passion for sheep and wool.
New this year will be The Livestock Collective’s Virtual Reality Experience. Come along and experience what it’s like on a live export ship through VR!
Australian Wool Innovation has a new Show Challenge, and Sheepfest has introduced a Toy Shearing Competition for kids. The WA Rural Ambassador and Wool Ambassador will be at Sheepfest to meet and greet, and there will be representatives to talk to about Wool in schools.
We will also have our regular events and activities including Australiana Wool & Natural Fibre Fashion Show, Sport Shear Competition, Wool Handling Competition, Best Pet Sheep, Young Farmer Challenge, Ewe Hogget Competition, Farm Boot Foot Race, Free Kids’ Entertainment, Junior Merino Judging, Market Stalls, Log Chopping, Hillman Farm Skydivers Sunset Dive, Live Band & Baa!
Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest is now more than a sheep and wool show. The event is a testament to the cultural and economic value that a show can provide to a community and town.
Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest was held on Saturday 11th February at the Darkan Town Oval, hosting a record crowd with estimates of over 2,800 in attendance. The theme this year was ‘Putting Wool Back on the Table’ and included the promotion of an online media campaign called #woolworkforce.
Special guest presenters Emily Riggs, creator of South Australian clothing label Iris and Wool, and Steve Noa, owner of The Merino Polo company, both shared their personal stories and passion for wool. Both animated and at times emotional, it made for a unique broadcast around the entire showgrounds.
Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest President, Pam Stockley, sees the benefits firsthand of what a local show brings –
“Ironically a locally run rural show is very universal. It brings together a diverse range of volunteers from different ages, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds. Everyone contributes varying skillsets, knowledge, and experiences to enhance the show. In the lead-up to a show, there is a buzz of energy in the community and a swelling of pride for the town and surrounding shire they live in. A visitor at Sheepfest made the comment that our show wasn’t just about sheep and wool it was about our people.”
An influx of visitors to a town often leads to return visits, generating an increase in economic growth for businesses and in turn benefits their employees and families. Shire of West Arthur CEO, Vin Fordham Lamont, explains –
“A rural show does involve a lot of planning and work to put together, but it is definitely worth the effort. The tourism that a show generates, and the spending tourists do in small towns are invaluable. The recent demand for short-term holiday rentals in our Shire has increased greatly and it is starting to have a flow-on effect with a renewed interest in long-term rentals and business opportunities. Small country shows like Act Belong Commit Darkan Sheepfest certainly have their rewards.”
Darkan has recently been given the opportunity of being highlighted on the Australian tourist map by featuring in the next season of ABC Television Back Roads documentary series. ABC Producer, Louise Turley, can attest to shows being good for a town –
“Back Roads is a very successful television program that celebrates rural life and communities. Many of the towns we visit have an annual show or event that brings everyone together. In often remote places, these occasions are vital to the health and well-being of the community. Sheepfest has become synonymous with the town of Darkan and is an exemplar of how transformative events like this can be. The towns on Back Roads can be very isolated yet after the episode airs, people have been known to travel from the other side of the country to visit them. I am looking forward to the time that Australia gets to see Darkan.”
It’s that time of year again! Time to start talking about Darkan Sheepfest! This year it’s all about ‘Putting Wool Back on the Table.’ Please help us spread the word by sharing this post.
A vital driving force of the wool industry are the ones working everyday in our shearing sheds. Shearers, wool handlers and shed staff. Sheepfest is set to showcase their talents and tenacity in our Sportshear and Wool Handling competitions.