The Woolly West Fest was founded by Jacinta Wareham and Naomi Turner in 2014 – the result of a self-imposed challenge to do something ‘fun’ for the community.
The festival draws on the region’s most famous natural resource – wool – and showcases its creative potential with a broad range of community art projects.
Believed to be the largest (geographically speaking) community arts project in Victoria and possibly even Australia, the Woolly West Fest unites ten towns from across the Shire of Southern Grampians (in a competitive kind of way) in a single two-week celebration of wool and early childhood literacy.
Running on a two-year cycle, the Woolly West Fest alternates between a childrens’ book themed year, and a Yarn Trail year. 2017 is Yarn Trail year, and we are thrilled to have ten towns joining us with a range of exhibitions and installations that each tells us something of that towns history, character, or sense of humour.
From Dunkeld’s giant puma, to Penshurst’s homage to tennis as the former social hub of every small town, to Coleraine’s lovesong to former resident Helena Rubinstein, Tarrington’s celebration of Western District history as told through tea cosies, we have a jam-packed program guaranteed to delight.
From top to bottom we are an entirely volunteer-run festival. The Western District produces some of the finest super-fine merino in the country. We’re pretty proud of that. From the time that the Henty Brothers first spread themselves out across this region, sheep have been the focus of our economic and cultural life. We believe in the importance of retaining the traditional wool-crafting techniques, as well as extending our posse with the odd creative new-fangled challenge. We believe in strong communities and how pride can totally change the way a town views itself and is able to help itself. We believe in the power and importance of early childhood literacy. We believe people do better when they are connected to their communities – when they belong.
So that’s kinda why we all do what we do!