Upper Hunter

19 Every year, the picturesque town of Merriwa in the Upper Hunter New South Wales, comes alive with the vibrant colours of wool and the sounds of festivities during the much-anticipated Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces. This unique celebration pays homage to the town’s rich agricultural heritage, particularly its wool industry, and attracts visitors from near and far. For more than 30 years, the festival, has become a staple in the community, drawing together locals and visitors to revel in the region’s proud farming traditions. The event typically takes place in June, marking the beginning of winter, when the sheep are freshly shorn, and the wool is at its finest. This timing adds an authentic touch to the celebration, as it allows attendees to witness the entire wool production process, from shearing to the final product. One of the festival’s main attractions is the iconic Running of the Sheep. Picture a charming parade featuring hundreds of fluffy sheep trotting through the town’s main street, guided by skilled herders, and accompanied by cheering crowds. It’s a spectacle that captures the essence of rural life and showcases the importance of sheep farming in the region. The festival’s commitment to community engagement is evident in its diverse program of events. Families can enjoy a variety of activities, from sheepdog trials that highlight the intelligence and agility of working dogs to shearing demonstrations that provide insights into the art of turning fleece into wool. For the creatively inclined, there are workshops on wool spinning and knitting, allowing participants to try their hand at traditional crafts. Food and market stalls add another layer to the festival’s charm, offering a taste of the region’s local produce. Visitors can sample delicious lamb dishes, savour artisanal cheeses, and explore handmade crafts, all while enjoying the warm and friendly atmosphere that permeates the festival grounds. Live entertainment is a key component of the Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces, with local musicians and performers taking the stage to celebrate the region’s cultural diversity. From folk tunes to country ballads, the musical backdrop enhances the overall experience, creating a festive ambiance that resonates throughout the town. The festival’s success is not only measured by its ability to entertain but also by its positive impact on the local economy. Businesses flourish during the event as visitors flock to Merriwa, boosting tourism and supporting the town’s economy. Additionally, the festival promotes a sense of community pride, fostering connections between locals and visitors who share a common appreciation for rural traditions. In essence, the Merriwa Festival of the Fleeces is more than just a celebration of sheep and wool; it’s a heartfelt tribute to the town’s agricultural roots. As the festival continues to grow and evolve, it remains a shining example of how communities can come together to celebrate their heritage, creating lasting memories and traditions for generations to come. Celebrating Rural Heritage: THE MERRIWA FESTIVAL OF THE FLEECES JUNE7TH – 9TH