Serving drinks and listening to yarns at the bar

Warepa Collie Club vice-president and barman Johnny Bennett, of Te Houka, has been serving dog...
Warepa Collie Club vice-president and barman Johnny Bennett, of Te Houka, has been serving dog triallists for a decade in South Otago. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Dog triallists worked up a thirst at the 101st Warepa Collie Club in South Otago recently. Shawn McAvinue spent five minutes talking to sheep and beef farmer and Warepa Collie Club vice-president and barman Johnny Bennett, of Te Houka.

Q. How long have you held the barman role?

Probably 10 years now. I’ve quite enjoyed it. In the club, we pride ourselves on the quality of the food we serve and the atmosphere at the bar.

Q. What have patrons being talking to you about?

Generally how their dogs have gone and the weather.

Q. When did the Johnny’s Bar sign get made?

Another club member made the sign and it was a wee surprise when this shed was built about six or seven years ago.

Q. On the far right of the sign someone has put a sticker saying "and son". Is this bar a family operation?

I don’t know who put that on. I look over the bar rather than behind it. My daughter Emma helped me out yesterday.

Q. Who made the bar top?

The wood is from the sawmill over the road and me and a couple of other club members cut it to shape. We built it and it serves its purpose. People have a good time here.

Q. Did you run a dog in the trial?

Yeah, my dog Rog. He did OK in one run. I’m not the best dog trialler in the world but I was happy with my runs. I’m still a learner. I came as a barman and then I started dog trialling.

Q. I’ve heard club president Craig McKenzie is liberating sheep at the moment. I thought one of the perks of having a presidential role would being able to delegate those type of jobs?

It is part of it. You get a good bit of banter when you’re liberating sheep.

Q. This is the club’s 101st annual trial. A cricket batter often gets out after reaching a century. Do you think the club has the steam to keep going for another century?

I think so. It has a good club spirit. We have 24 members, which is pretty good for a dog trial club and they are a mix of ages and men and women.