Wagin Woolorama: Fleeces in fine form and farmers keen to compete after event’s COVID-19 hiatus

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenCountryman
Wagin Woolorama’s 2021grand champion fleece award winners Geraldine King, Melinda King and Jeremy King, of Rangeview Stud in Darkan.
Camera IconWagin Woolorama’s 2021grand champion fleece award winners Geraldine King, Melinda King and Jeremy King, of Rangeview Stud in Darkan. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Wagin Woolorama organisers are calling on all local woolgrowers to get involved in this year’s fleece competition and showcase the region’s best wool to the rest of WA.

The State’s biggest sheep show will return in fine form on March 10 and 11, after last year’s 50th celebration was mothballed thanks to WA Premier Mark McGowan’s snap COVID-19 restrictions.

With the count down until Wagin Woolorama on, local woolgrower and head wool steward Chris Piesse said he had received plenty of interest but hoped to drum up more entries in the Local Producer class.

The category is for commercial wool producers whose main enterprise is within 50km of the Wagin town site.

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Mr Piesse said fleeces were looking exceptional in the Great Southern, after plenty of rain last year led to lots of good quality pastures.

Most of the fleeces entered are shorn in spring or autumn, with the Wagin area known for producing some of the best wool in WA.

“The fleeces should be sound with quite a lot of wool,” he said.

More than 100 fleeces are entered each year, with entries hailing from at least 40 different competitors.

As well as taking home a flash sash, the winner claims bragging rights for the next year.

And if 2021’s Best Local Producer Brian Kilpatrick returns to claim his throne, he will have some new contenders nipping at his heels.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of first time entrants who’ve got some fleeces set aside to enter, so that’s exciting,” Mr Piesse said.

“Brian looked pretty good in his sash... but hopefully we get a few more people come in who might try and knock him off the perch.”

Wagin Woolorama is not just about local woolgrowers, though.

The annual event attracts top WA producers from Esperance to Geraldton and beyond, all vying for a slew of prestigious awards that far outweigh the prize money (first $30, second $20, third $10).

As well as Grand Champion Fleece and Best Local Producer, ribbons are awarded for strong, medium, fine and superfine wool Merino fleeces, with nine trophies also up for grabs.

The top gong in 2021 went to the King family of Darkan, who claimed their first Woolorama Grand Champion Fleece after exhibiting for nearly 20 years.

It was years of careful genetic selection and breeding that ultimately paid off for Rangeview Stud studmaster Jeremy King, whose September-shorn, superfine ram fleece scored 94 points out of a possible 100.

But it was far from Mr King’s first major accolade, having previously claimed many supreme titles for fleeces at the Perth Royal Show — including back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019.

Mr Piesse, who took on the role of head steward in 2019, is considering throwing his own hat in the ring this year, and he expects the standard of competition to be very high.

He said farmers were excited about Woolorama’s return, with

“I think after a year off, people are going to come back with renewed vigour and are keen to be a part of it,” he said.

“Woolorama is the perfect opportunity to showcase local farmers and give people an idea of what we do in Wagin.”

Entries are accepted until 5.30pm on Thursday, March 9 with judging taking place at 8am on Friday, March 10.

The fleece prizes will be presented on the Merino judging Lawn at 2pm on Saturday, March 11.

This year’s Wagin Woolorama will be held March 10 and 11.

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