Each year on the Sunday of the October long weekend a celebration of fine Merino wool and all things Irish occurs in the quaint little town of Boorowa, just over an hour's drive from Canberra.
Let me start by providing a little background on Boorowa. In the 1820's two Irish convicts, Roger Corcoran and Ned Ryan, took their ticket of leave in Boorowa and encouraged family members and friends to join them. With a famine at home, the Irish began arriving in droves and as a result created and nurtured a 'little Ireland' of culture and Catholicism in Boorowa that remains to this day and is especially celebrated at the Irish Woolfest.
The festival begins with the official opening and Ecumenical blessing of the fleece at 11.40am and street parade at 12noon, with the highlight being the running of the sheep; yes, you read correctly... sheep. Although not as exhilarating as its Spanish counterpart, it makes for great entertainment to see a flock of Merino sheep dashing up the main street of the town, with a kelpie leaping on and off their backs and a motorbike hot on their heels.
Another major highlight of the street parade is the 'Off the Sheep's Back' fashion parade which involves around thirty local models showcasing Australian wool at its best. Boorowa is world renowned for its fine Merino wool and if the fashion parade does not convince you of just how fashionable, durable and diverse this natural fibre is, be sure to ask one of the local farmers at the pub that afternoon.
The fashion parade is followed by an array of floats, world renowned street performers, and other festivities. Meander freely through over eighty market stalls that line the street, whilst listening to one of a number of Irish bands and Dancers performing throughout the day. Among the stalls you will find the growers market, handmade craft and a banquet of tasty treats.
Other popular events that are held throughout the day include: the Yard Dog Trials, the National Flyball Team, the Billy Cart Derby, Shearing Demonstrations, and the St John's Art Show.