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Fresh vision and renewed purpose have been unveiled for an embattled Central Otago fashion event.
The WoolOn Creative Fashion Event began in its current format in 2004 and was a key event of the Alexandra Blossom Festival, held in September each year. In 2016, it became its own entity and a major Alexandra event, attracting national and international entries.
In recent years, the event was dogged by controversy — a cancelled event and a struggle to form a committee in 2019, a contentious relocation from Alexandra to Cromwell, designer boycotts and an attempted coup within the incorporated society.
In 2020, the event unravelled due to Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings. On the heels of a successful show in 2021, the virus continued to plague organisers and the 2022 event was cancelled due to ongoing uncertainty.
On Sunday, at a high tea held at The Packing Shed Gallery and Cafe, a new-look committee revealed plans for WoolOn to move forward.
Vice-chairwoman Maxine Williams told a crowd of about 35 people the committee wanted not only to engage support, but also to attract people who actively wanted to help with running the event.
"We agreed that we would use this opportunity to rebuild for 2023 ... we are a small team believing in the future of WoolOn," she said.
"We’ve agreed we want to deliver this inspirational, unique experience and continue to inspire our community and audience and partners — it’s not possible without a strong, committed committee."
Designer liaison Jamie Richards said the 2023 event would be held at The Canyon at Tarras Vineyards. However, there was nothing preventing it from being held in Maniototo or Teviot Valley in the future.
"Our vision as a committee is to make it a Central Otago experience."
WoolOn will be held on August 13-14, 2023.