Around five thousand people enjoyed the ‘true blue’ atmosphere of the Merriwa Rosto Festival of the Fleeces over the long weekend.
The town was decorated in true blue fashion with Merriwa Pharmacy winning first prize in the window decorations competition, followed by Merriwa Sports Club and the newsagency News Xpress.
In its 27th year the festival continues to celebrate the importance of wool and the Upper Hunter’s rural and agricultural heritage.
The biggest event was on Saturday beginning with Kamilaroi elder Aunty Rosalind giving the Welcome to Country, with a hundreds market stalls and plenty of entertainment and displays to enjoy.
At noon two hundred Dohne Merino sheep in red socks lead the parade through town, followed by classic cars and machinery, businesses, school and community floats.
The top parade competition winners were the Merriwa Springtime Show float.
The crowd also enjoyed demonstrations of shearing, traditional blade shearing, and working sheep dog demonstrations, Roar Petting Zoo, Crocodile Adventures Reptile Show, vintage vehicle displays, entertainment by the Waste Wrappers Show and Sean Murphy, gum boot throwing and ‘sheep poo’ spitting competitions, then team penning and the a fully choreographed fireworks finale by Ka Boom at the Merriwa Showground.
The high jump competition for big dogs was won by Tatar with a leap of 2.22 metres and Milo won the smaller dog competition clearing one metre.
In the Hanging of the Quilts raffle, first prize was won by Lisa Green and second prize went to Debbie Hayden. In the viewers’ choice competition most votes went to Julie Cooper’s big earthmoving machinery quilt with Shirley Hunt coming in second for the candlewicked quilt.
The opening event on Friday night at the Merriwa RSL was a great success attracting one hundred people. It was officially opened by the Land Sydney Royal Showgirl 2017 Maisie Morrow and there were performances by vocalist Victoria Bolonino and Everyday People.
The recipient of the Festival Pam Powers Award for 2017 went to Richard Magner, a dedicated member of the Festival organising committee who with his family supports many Merriwa community events. The award is presented in memory of Pam Power, mayor of the former Merriwa Shire Council, and one of the founders of the Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces in 1990.
The major festival raffle was announced at the opening night event and won by Jane Callinan, second prize going to Chloe Leake, and third to Ross Bishop.
On Sunday morning, nearly 100 people attended the Bush Poets Breakfast compered and judged by Ellerston grazier and bush poet Tim McLoughlin. First prize for Best Original Poem went to Wendy Sedden and first prize for best presentation of someone else’s poem to Rhonda Tallnarsh. Encouragement awards went to Alan Ryan, Caroline Maxfield, Rick Wright and Karina McLoughlan.
Chair of the Festival of the Fleeces Committee, Councillor Ron Campbell said the organising committee had done a great job bringing together a variety of family-friendly activities and entertainment.
“Monies raised from the Festival are donated to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and the Merriwa Volunteer Rescue Association who provide essential services in the region,” Cr Campbell said.
“Thanks to all the supporters and sponsors.”
Naming Rights Sponsor: Rosto Olives
Platinum Sponsors Coal and Allied and Upper Hunter Shire Council
Gold Sponsors: Paradise Country and Ka-Boom Fireworks
Silver Sponsors: Gordon Martin Bulk Hauling, Mantra Aqua, Webimble Wagyu, David and Paula Stevenson, Campbell Family of Merriwa.
Bronze Sponsors: MAM Advisory Group, Merriwa IGA, Merriwa CWA, Merriwa Home Timber and Hardware, Merriwa Royal Hotel, Merriwa RSL, Lenore’s Quilting, Jake A. McIntyre
Major media partner: NBN New England.
Media partners: New England Lifestyle Magazine, Merriwa Ringer, Hunter Valley Printing, Outback Press, Hunter Valley News.
Open Community Sponsors, Donators, and Supporters: Caroline’s Café, Di’s Clothing Patch, Elders-Pitt and Sons, Max’s Country Cuts, Merriwa Pharmacy, James Wightman, Merriwa RSL, RM Property & Livestock, Merriwa Auto Electrical, Merriwa Welcoming Centre, Merriwa Tyre & Service Centre, Merriwa Petroleum & AG Supplies, Merriwa Newsagency, John Flood Estate Agents Scone, Merrifield Farm, Regional Australia Bank, Merriwa Cross Country.
For further comment: Cr Ron Campbell on 0428 485153
For further information: Merriwa VIC on 6521 7046