The Australian Sheep and Wool Show, the largest event of its type in the world, has finally received the green light to go ahead next month.
- The Australian Sheep and Wool Show will go ahead on July 16-18
- Thousands of people usually travel from across the country to Bendigo for the show
- Border closures and Covid restrictions have caused event planning chaos
The Bendigo event normally attracts more than 30,000 visitors and will run from July 16 to 18.
Last year the 143rd annual show was cancelled due to the pandemic.
And when last month’s Covid lockdown struck Victoria, the show’s CEO Margot Falconer panicked as it looked likely the event would be cancelled again.
But she said the show would now go ahead as planned unless restrictions were tightened again.
A boom for Bendigo’s economy
She said the cancellation of last year’s event had only increased interest in the show, with more sites booked compared to 2019.
“There are 450 trade sites and 500 farmers are bringing their sheep from all over Australia,” she said.
The three-day event injects millions into the local economy.
“It is the ongoing benefit to all of those people who make a living out of the event.”
But border closures may still have some impact on the event.
At this stage, Western Australians will not be able to attend, and the Sydney outbreak has also put some New South Wales farmers’ plans in doubt.
Australian Sheep and Wool Show president and sheep farmer Rob McCartney said the changing border situation had made planning this year’s event a stressful task.
“It puts considerable strain and anxiety,” he said.
“But you just have to keep focused and we have to keep planning ahead.”
Mr McCartney said he was confident the event would go ahead, despite recent Covid scares and border closures.
One of the highlights of this year’s event is the 20th annual Australian Fleece Competition, which is the largest fully measured fleece competition in the world.
Other features of the event, including Australia’s largest fibre market, shearing, ram sales, the Central Victorian Dog Yard Championships, fashion parades and a new event — the Women of Wool lunch — will all go ahead as planned, within Covid safety guidelines.