The Rosto Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces attracted record crowds this June long weekend to enjoy the biggest event in the festival’s 26 year history. Thousands of visitors and locals experienced the diverse attractions celebrating the importance of wool and the Upper Hunter’s special rural heritage.
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood said the atmosphere was fantastic and congratulated the festival committee and the wider community on bringing together a variety of fun and interesting events over the weekend.
Kamilaroi elder Aunty Rosalind gave the Welcome to Country.
The festival highlight was the street parade led out by the Rosto Running of the Sheep in red socks. Hundreds of Dohne Merino Sheep donated by Upper Hunter Shire Councillor Ron Campbell, were led out by Kristyn Telfer and local pet sheep Angas, ahead of a colourful parade of businesses, school and community groups.
Parade competition winners included St Joseph’s Primary School for their sheep sculpture and Alex and Tracey Clements for their classic car, a 1961 Corvette.
After the parade, the crowd enjoyed shearing and working sheep dog demonstrations, quilt and knitting exhibitions, Roar Petting Zoo, Croc Starts Reptile Show, the Waste Wrappers Show, team penning and fireworks at the Merriwa Showground.
The Dog high jump competition is always exciting, with the large dog competition achieving a winning height of 207cm and the small dog class 70cm.
Gum boot throwing saw some future champions, 6 years and under - Degan threw the boot 8.51m; 7 -12 years - Lachlan threw 20.21m; and 13 years and over - Elojah achieved 27.75 m.
‘Sheep poo’ spitting contest: 6 years and under - Mia propelled the jelly bean 1.4m; 7 -12 years - Braith spat 5.9m; and 13 years and over - Alex achieved 4.6m.
Over 130 people attended the Merriwa Tyre and Service Centre Fashion of the Fleeces on Friday night, which included 2012 female National Bush Poet Robyn Sykes, Sydney band ‘Every Day People’ and a fashion parade compered by Sally Hagley with designer clothing from Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Di’s Clothing Patch of Merriwa modelled by Merriwa locals.
On Sunday morning, over 100 people attended the poets breakfast compered by Robyn Sykes. The two hours of excellent performances included two first time entrants who received standing ovations.
The Bush Poet Breakfast winners were:
Rhonda Tallnash - Best presentation and best original poem.
John Adams - Best presentation reciting other author poem.
Kevin Adams - Best poem presentation.
Rick Wright - Encouragement award.
Bill Parry - Junior encouragement award.
Barbara Cowley - Encouragement award.
The recipient of the Festival Pam Powers Award for 2016 went to committee member Barbara Campbell. 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.
In announcing the award, Mayor Wayne Bedggood paid tribute to the contributions Barbara Campbell has made to the Festival and the community.
Marie Caines won a three night stay at Mantra Aqua Resort in Nelson Bay.
Rob Tindall won a stay at Strathearn Park Lodge.
Alana Duggan won a packed whole lamb, cut up by Max’s Country Cuts and donated by the Campbell Family of Merriwa.
Anthony Smith won the Hunter Belle Cheese voucher and a bottle of boutique Orange Rose’ from Small Forest
Val Newling won a cheese platter for two and two glasses of wine at the Vines Restaurant, Hollydene.
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.
The Rosto Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces Committee chairperson Cr Deirdre Peebles thanked the many sponsors and volunteers, particularly major sponsors, Rosto Olives, Merriwa IGA, NBN, Merriwa Ringer and the Merriwa Diary, Merriwa Pharmacy, Curtis Gant Irving Solicitors, David and Paula Stevenson – Webimble Wagyu, MacDonald Accountants, the Campbell Family and Upper Hunter Shire Council.
Silver Sponsors, Martin Transport, Merriwa RSL Club, Australian Wool Innovation, Merriwa CWA, Merriwa Royal Hotel, Di’s Clothing Patch, totalesolutions, Comprint, Coal & Allied, Merriwa Sports Club, Hunter and Central Coast Regional Environmental Strategy, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Jake A Macintyre, Merriwa Welcoming Centre, Lenore’s Quilting and the community sponsors and supporters.
Upper Hunter Shire Council
02 6540 1100
Upper Hunter Shire Council is a local government authority and provides an extensive array of services including health and building; town planning; aged care; sporting and recreational facilities; roads; libraries; garbage collection; airport facilities; saleyards; public venues; water; children, youth and families and tourist information.