12 August 2022

Beanies and beret spring-themed comp a top idea for Boorowa's Irish Woolfest

| Edwina Mason
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The Boorowa Irish Woolfest Beanie and Beret Competition has, in the past, attracted a range of delightful entries from all over Australia. Image: Boorowa Rotary Club.

Click, clack, clickety-clacking can be heard all around the South West Slopes at this time of year as knitters cast on and start creating for the competition of all competitions.

Not quite at the level of Australia’s chief beanie festival, which is the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, which started with a “beanie party” in 1997, the next best thing is the Boorowa Beanie and Beret Competition.

Introduced in 2014 as an extra interactive element to the world-famous Boorowa Irish Woolfest – which celebrates the Irish and wool heritage of the district just a couple of sheep’s throw from Yass.

Held the Sunday of the October long weekend – amid the street parade, the running of the sheep, Irish music and everything wool – the beanie and beret competition calls for entries and imagination as vast as the techniques able to be deployed.

Overseen by and coordinated through the Rotary Club of Boorowa, this snippet of the festival acts as a fundraiser for Australian Rotary Health’s “Lift the Lid” campaign to research and reduce stigma around mental illness.

In the past competition organisers have welcomed all sorts of beanies and berets – minions, sharks, Viking hats, even Harry Potter’s sorting hat – as competition entries from as far afield as Port Macquarie and Tasmania.

With the 2022 theme “Spring”, Boorowa Rotary is inviting everyone to help celebrate the wonderful feeling of springtime.

That great sense of sunshine, colour, fun, warmth and joy.

The same feelings that come from wearing a beanie.

Everyone – men, women, young people, children – are invited to make an extraordinary beanie or beret using any technique, be that knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving or sewing. Or they could make one out of paper, wood or metal.

Whatever is at hand that can be used to create that wonderful springtime feeling.

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According to one of the event organisers, Lyn Diskon, the definition of a beanie or beret is anything that is hand-made from any material, that is wearable and provides some warmth.

“They can be as simple or complex as the creator would like to make them,” Lyn said.

With seven categories in the competition offering great prizes, the only barrier to taking part is your imagination.

For instance, there’s the Madcap Springtime Champion Prize for beanies or berets that invite interaction and fun with spring; The Fun of Layering prize for those able to use a mix of techniques, be that embroidery, scrumbling, beading, dying or weaving and those who like to use recycled or natural materials can enter the Recycled/Earth Friendly competition.

Agricultural materials and resources celebrate Springtime on the Land while the Irish Woolfest beanie comp offers a prize for an outstanding piece of work representing a love for Woolfest.

School-aged beginner beanie makers, aged five to 10 years, have the New Wave Beanie Encouragement Prize to give them a kickstart, while more experienced beanie makers – aged 11-16 years – go for the big prize in the New Wave Beanie Prize.

And, says Lyn, the tiny tots at Boorowa’s Early Education Centre will have stretch fabric to decorate in coming weeks to prepare their entries for display.

All entries must be received no later than Friday September 16.

People wishing to have a crack at beanie making should go to the Woolfest website for more information and entry forms.

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