New Zealand’s two big season-opening shearing and woolhandling championships are going ahead under the constraints of the pandemic Level 2 competitions.
But organisers of stand-alone stadium events the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra on October 1-2 and the New Zealand Spring Shears on October 8-9, each expecting over 100 competitors, won’t be accepting late entries and there won’t be any general public attendance.
Entries for Alexandra close on Sunday (September 26), and organisers of both shows say entry fees will be refunded if the events do have to be cancelled.
They will also be putting in-place all the required precautions and steps needed to protect the safety of all involved, including restricted numbers indoors, contact tracing scanning and recording procedures, hand-sanitising, social distancing and compulsory wearing of face-masks except when competing.
But the pandemic has taken a big bit out of the start of the season in the North Island, with the cancellation of the first three A and P shows on the east coast – Poverty Bay, which was to have been held in Gisborne on October 15-16, Hawke’s Bay (Hastings, October 20-22) and Wairarapa (Carterton, October 29-30).
Long-standing shearing and woolhandling competitions were scheduled for all three, but none are expected to take place, although Wairarapa shearing convener Allan Grant said his team will “look at options” for running a stand-alone event, trying to avoid cancellation for a second year in a row.
The news is as good as it can be for the 60th Merino championships, and the start of the 50th season for the national shearing – incorporating the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown initiated in Alexandra in 1972. The Circuit is now known as the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit and incorporates rounds at Alexandra (finewool), Waimate 9log strongwool), Christchurch (corriedales), Marton (lambs) and Pahitu 9second-shear), with semi-finals and the final at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.
Alexandra chairman Greg Stuart said more than 100 had been received for the Merino championships by Monday this week.
Among them were 19 in the circuit, for which Alexandra is a compulsory leg, circuit and Waimate show chairman Warren White says allowances are being made for shearers who have entered to still compete in circuit shows if the restrictions of the Covid-19 Delta crisis stop them from competing at any of the shows.
Alexandra’s Molyneaux Stadium will host woolhandling from heats to finals in all three grades on the Friday, and shearing in the Open and Senior grades on the Saturday, with reporting at 8am on each day. But to help comply with the requirements the popular Contractors shearing and woolhandling teams event has had to be cancelled.
Waimate’s own purpose built but multi-use stadium will also stage all woolhandling on its event’s opening day, along with the national winter-comb Open and Senior shearing championships, with all of those events also on merino sheep.
The Spring Shears shearing in Open, Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Novice grades will take place on the Saturday.
The pandemic caused an early cancellation of what would have been the 60th celebration at Alexandra last year, but Stuart says the committee knows “a lot more” now than what it did 12 months ago and is up to the challenges.
Organisers of about 60 competitions scheduled throughout the country are keeping up their hopes of staging their events, including Ellesmere’s 150th anniversary Selwyn Show in Leeston on October 16 and the Northern A and P Show in Rangiora on October 23, both of which were cancelled last year.