5 January 2022

100 years on, the CWA celebrates at the 2022 Crookwell Show

| Clare McCabe
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Woman standing

NSW President of the CWA Stephanie Stanhope will officially open the Crookwell Show next year. Photo: Supplied.

The Country Women’s Association was founded 100 years ago at a conference attended by country women in Sydney. As part of centenary celebrations, the NSW CWA President Stephanie Stanhope will officially open the 143rd annual Crookwell Show in February.

Like many country shows, the Crookwell Show is making a comeback in 2022 after the organisers opted to cancel the 2021 show due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president of the Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society in Crookwell, Ken McCallum, said his committee was looking forward to welcoming back the community, and was excited to be sharing the celebrations with the CWA.

“The associations have had a long-standing friendship,” Mr McCallum said.

“We congratulate the CWA on 100 years, and we look forward to continuing that into the future.”

Mr McCallum said the local CWA had helped the AP&H Society with a donation to buy the showground.

Crookwell had the unique honour of forming the first branch of the CWA under the vice-president of the state branch Florence Laver, wife of Stephen Laver, in 1922.

The current president, Stephanie Stanhope, from Bega, is in her third year in the role and will hand over her presidency at the end of the term.

She said, for many years, the collaboration with agricultural shows had successfully served the community.

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The tea rooms at many rural shows are still managed by the CWA volunteers and act as a fundraiser.

“The CWA has been the backbone of so many communities and the agricultural shows in the rural communities are the same. You’ve got two such iconic organisations that when they work together it is actually going to work,” Ms Stanhope said.

“It’s my belief from the travelling around that I’ve done, that when you have these smaller communities, whatever the organisations are that make a community strong have to work together.”

The founder of the CWA was Grace Munro from Bingara. In 1935, she recounted to the Sydney Morning Herald Women’s Supplement, that “Our aim was to improve conditions for the women outback.”

“We decided that we must begin our campaign at Easter time when the country folk could be reached … the Showground was our battlefield,” she said.

Even today, the CWA is a powerful organisation and its connections and campaigning impact decision-making at the top.

“I have seen how much good the association can do, the advocacy work we do is quite remarkable,” Ms Stanhope said.

“When everyone in the organisation is united, we are quite a powerful voice.”

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In 2022, hundreds of members of the CWA will go back to the days of high teas and balls as part of state-wide celebrations. Sometime during the year, a picnic day will be hosted by branches consecutively across NSW.

“Everyone will be celebrating together wherever they are,” Ms Stanhope said.

At Government House, the grounds will be opened by the Governor-General of Australia for a garden party.

Meanwhile, in Crookwell, after the show’s official opening on February 12, Ms Stanhope will visit members of the local branches and tour the sites.

That’s one of the things I love when I’m travelling is just to get around and look at the community and see what’s going on,” she said.

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