One hundred and ninety-seven sheep donned red socks for a party down Merriwa’s main street on Saturday.
For many of these Merino ewes, this was not the first time they had hit Merriwa for a big day out, having run in the town’s annual Festival of the Fleeces back in 2010.
With lambing just around the corner, these six-year-old ‘show girls’ made the most of their moment in the limelight, kicking up their red heels in several acts of defiance towards their chaperones – a couple of black and tan kelpies.
Sheep owner, Merriwa farmer and Festival of the Fleeces committee member Ron Campbell, said he was just glad they didn’t run off like last time.
“Last year we used a mob of F1 Dohne’s but they proved a bit too frisky for the job, splitting into two mobs half way down the street,” Mr Campbell said.
“This year we brought back the Merinos and they were
certainly a lot quieter.
“We also kept the two led sheep down the other end of the street instead of in front of the mob, which I think helped steady them,” Mr Campbell said.
While the running of the sheep down the main street was definitely the major draw card for most of the crowd of over 3000, the remaining festival line up seemed to live up to expectations.
“It was excellent, but of course I could be a bit biased,” Upper Hunter Shire councillor and festival chairperson Deirdre Peebles said.
“Our festival gives young people a subtle message about agriculture, life on the land and what’s involved,” said Mrs Peebles who has been a committee member since the festival first started 22 years ago.
“2012 is the Australian Year of the Farmer and I think the festival has successfully acknowledged the outstanding job our farmers do.”
A new act this year was David Seis from Dunedoo who gave several quick-clicking, blade shearing demonstrations throughout the day.
The dog high jump competition, always a crowd favourite, was back again with Jack Eade’s kelpie Pearl from Merriwa leaping 1.63 metres to take out first place.
The working sheep dog
display, old time machinery exhibit, Maitland pipe band, team penning, petting zoo, reptile show, and lolly scramble provided plenty of entertainment throughout the day with fireworks concluding the
festival with a colourful bang.
This year’s Festival of the Fleeces was declared by many the best yet.