Golden Fleece competition cancelled, again

The Golden Fleece competition has been cancelled for the third year in a row.

The annual competition, due to be held at the Rangiora Showgrounds function centre in May, has become a casualty of Covid-19 again, Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) central districts manager Christine Roberts says.

"We need the volunteers to run it, so it’s about keeping people safe and we need people to be bringing their fleeces.

"And we want to make sure we get a good display of fleeces, but it’s hard to get people bringing their fleeces when they’re not able to enter them in the A&P shows.

"We want top quality fleeces in the 90 to 100 microns because we have medals of excellence and good prizemoney, but people don’t know whether their fleeces are good enough until they get them judged at the shows."

The Golden Fleece has competitions for fine wool, strong wool, black and coloured fleeces, alpaca fleeces and mohair (goat) fleeces.

"We usually get around 160 white fleeces, plus black and coloured fleeces, at least 100 alpaca fleeces and about 40 mohair fleeces, so it all adds up," Mrs Roberts says.

"There doesn’t seem to be any money in wool at the moment, but as long as they can continue to showcase their product they can continue to have a profile."

The Golden Fleece was last held in 2019, at Rangiora.

Mrs Roberts says the RAS hopes to bring the Golden Fleece back to the Rangiora Showgrounds function centre in May 2023.

In her role as central districts manager, Mrs Roberts is in contact with 31 show committees in the top half of the South Island, and says all of them are facing similar challenges due to Covid-19, with some facing an uncertain future.

"It’s about how are we going to move forward. I understand that 82 out of 95 shows nationwide have been been cancelled.

"It really depends a lot on a committee’s financial reserves and it depends on whether their district can help.

"Volunteers come and go and you’ve got that stalwart group of people, which is getting older."

Filling the roles of president and secretary is proving to be a challenge for several show committees.

Several committees have divided the roles, such as having a treasurer and show secretary, as well as a committee secretary.

"Sometimes being able to work together as a team is the best way forward," Mrs Roberts says.

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