MIXING practicality with fashion in true Sheepvention style, among the most popular items snapped up by teenagers at Hamilton Sheepvention yesterday were short lengths of fluoro pink poly pipe used to help move livestock.
Fine weather brought out a big crowd that thronged the site’s laneways, pleasing exhibitors and organisers.
Thomas Guthrie, from near Willaura, was among the hundreds of exhibitors at the event that shows much more rides on the sheep’s back than just wool and meat.
Mr Guthrie, a wool producer, was exhibiting not wool but his book The Longest Drive and his Grampians Estate wines.
The Longest Drive was launched last month and tells the story of the 3500-kilometre, 16-month drive of sheep from the Donald property of Mr Guthrie’s great-grandfather, also named Thomas Guthrie, to Avon Downs in the Northern Territory.
Premier Denis Napthine, a former Hamilton veterinarian, is a big fan of Sheepvention and officially opened the show. Dr Napthine said the event promoted innovations that drove the sheep industry forward, such as great genetics.
Being innovative with lamb gastronomically was Hamilton’s Commercial Hotel head chef Rhoy Treves at the Taste of the Great South West pavilion.
His innovative dishes created at the pavilion’s cooking demonstrations included barbecued lamb ribs with a beetroot gel, while people also had the chance to taste his lamb’s fry, bacon and pork belly sausages.
Melrose merino stud breeder John Russell, from near Horsham, has been selling rams at Sheepvention for 12 years and running an exhibit for about six.
Mr Russell said while his business used many ways to market its rams, such as through Facebook, it kept returning to Sheepvention because its “seeing is believing” method was still effective in luring buyers.
He said clients not only bought rams from the stud at Sheepvention but also used the event to inspect what the stud would have on offer in forthcoming sales.
With the wool industry and Hamilton going through many changes in past decades, Mr Russell said he did not know whether Hamilton was still the wool capital of the world.
However, the credibility of Hamilton’s claim was of little concern because Sheepvention still “works for us,” he said.
Fine wool prices had hit a lull but his family’s stud had been going since 1937 and he firmly believes there is a good future for wool sheep.
One of the ram producers at Sheepvention with an interest in the wool industry’s proud past, as well as its future, was John Dalla, 25, from Warooka on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
Mr Dalla is a five-times national blade shearing champion and said many sheep studs still preferred blade shearing because it gave a better finish to their rams.
While Mr Dalla said blade shearing could not compete with the higher numbers machine shearing could handle, he had blade shorn up to 60 rams and more than 200 ewes in a day.
Blade shearing was easier on shearers than machine shearing, allowing them to move around the sheep with less restrictions, he said.
Sheepvention’s showcase of stunning wool fashions is part of its contribution to the industry’s future and its fashion parades give exposure to both new and established designers.
The principal winner of its 2014 Australasian Young Designers Wool Awards was Jessica Louise Nicholls from TAFE SA with her striking woollen ball gown.
Stephanie Cartledge of Ballarat Grammar won the best secondary school entry.
Category winners were:
Streetwear — 1st, Erik Yvon, RMIT; 2nd, Petar Prodanovic, TAFE SA; 3rd, Zoe Burrows, Ballarat Grammar.
Evening Wear — 1st, Jessica Louise Nicholls; 2nd, Erik Yvon, RMIT; 3rd, Shannon Harding, TAFE SA.
Fantasy — 1st, Casey Von Einem, TAFE SA; 2nd, Stephanie Cartledge, Ballarat Grammar; 3rd, Meg Parry, White House Institute; highly commended, Madison Prime, TAFE SA.
Racewear — 1st, Jessie Coote, The Gordon; 2nd, Gemma Cassar, TAFE SA; 3rd, Stephanie Bull, Kangan TAFE.
Corporate wear — Erik Yvon, RMIT; 2nd, Fazilet Cayli, RMIT; 3rd, Carla Versace, The Gordon Institute.