Interesting History Behind Woolfest

Written by: The Hilltops Phoenix


The Boorowa Irish Woolfest is steeped in tradition.

Boorowa’s exquisite Merino wool is well known around the world. In the late 1990s, organising a Wool Week celebration presented itself as a wonderful way to highlight the exquisite wool from the area.

This festival lasted for an entire week, and around town there were shearing demonstrations, wool shows, and workshops.

Even back then, a vibrant street parade followed behind the sherpa as they led the procession to the showground.

The running of the sheep reminds everyone of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Though not quite as perilous, the four-wheel motorbike’s full throttle and the sheep dogs’ leaping on and off the sheep’s back make for an equally spectacular experience.

After a few years, it was decided to cut the event down to a single festival on a day when the street would be closed to traffic in order to make it a truly stunning event. The fact that all of the events were spread out along the main thoroughfare increased their effect. That’s how Woolfest began.

There were 1000 attendees to the event where Armondo of Sweet Charity fame was their first star performer, and Simona then put on a wool fashion show.

Boorowa introduced the Irish element in 2000 since the town has close ties to Ireland and is a twin town with Clonouty in the Irish province of Tipperary.

Famously, in the 19th Century, a Catholic nun was asked if she had been to Ireland. She replied that she had not, but that she had been to Burrowa.

The first known Irish settlers in Boorowa were cousins Roger Corcoran and Ned Ryan, who arrived on Tickets of Leave in the 1820s. They were ordered to be transported from Clonoulty in Tipperary to NSW.

Their offence - taking part in the devastation of a hospital that an English garrison intended to occupy. They performed significant roles in the settlement and development of the region and were eventually awarded a “Ticket of Freedom”.

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