As the highly successful Marilyn Monroe Exhibition sadly departs Bendigo, yet another glamorous event is taking its place. Yes, I’m talking about the Australian Sheep and Wool Show (15-17 July) and, if you think I’m disrespecting Marilyn by comparing her with sheep, then think again.
The days of when Australia's economy rode on the back of the illustrious sheep industry are long gone but I cannot help but be impressed with how this traditional agricultural event has reinvented itself and significantly increased its revenue in the process. I do hope that other primary industries and agricultural show organisers are taking note as this flock is well worth following to see how they do it.
Running for 139 years, the past decade has seen significant change in how the Australian Sheep & Wool Show is presented to the public particularly since making the move from Melbourne to the regional city of Bendigo. It is truly bigger than Ben Hur in terms of exhibition spaces and activities offered with broad appeal to the wider public who may have never been in a paddock let alone near a sheep.
What most impresses me is how this event highlights everything from the primary product (live sheep) right through to the many end products. Sheep and fleeces are fiercely scrutinised while shearers and working dogs are put through their paces. Young people are invited to attend a career forum at 3.30pm daily. Then there is the food, fashion, and a vast array of industry and wool related products that attract just as much, if not more, attention.
All these activities will take place from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 July, 2016. And, if you have a big cheque book, stick around for the Ram Sales on the Monday!
My personal favourites are watching school students vying for the champion sashes, and the working dogs intently eyeballing their stubborn subjects through a maze of tight spaces on a large oval. For an increasing number of the general public it is browsing an impressive line-up of over 400 site holders across an array of pavilions worthy of any swap meet.
Who would have thought that you don’t have to know anything about sheep or even like them to enjoy this event?
Bluntstone boots intermingle with high heels thanks to the introduction of the Women of Wool Luncheon (Friday) and the Australian Wool Fashion Shows. How refreshing to be able to wander through the champion sheep exhibits and then zip up the stairs to fine dining. Umm, word of warning. Just remember to wipe your heels on the mat as you exit the sheep pavilion!
I’m sure that Marilyn would have willingly clad herself in fine wool to mix with the best of the best of Australia’s sheep and view the latest fashions if she could have. Oh well, I will just have to go in her place. Will I see you there?
KERRY ANDERSON: A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia. She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE