FOR the first time in its 24-year history, Casterton’s Australian Kelpie Muster will not run on the June long weekend – but all is not lost.
After reaching its critical point for planning this week, the committee voted to postpone – rather than cancel - the internationally-renowned event until October, this year.
“When (Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews) declared a State of Emergency because of the Covid-19 virus, what seems like a long time ago now, most people didn’t know what that meant – we certainly didn’t fully comprehend,” Kelpie Association President, Karen Stephens said.
“It was going to go for four weeks, then things might look better, so we made a measured decision at the time that we would reassess mid-April, which would allow us the six weeks we need to get all of the permits in place.
“We need a couple of State Government permits, we need a sale permit to conduct the working dog auction, we need a permit to close the road.
“We didn’t want to just go ahead and cancel, if we were going to get to the end of the four weeks and things had totally changed – but we know so much more now.”
Mrs Stephens said the decision to reschedule the event, rather than cancel, required little discussion among the committee, which recognised the massive economic repercussions for the community if just one year of the event was missed.
“The Australian Kelpie Muster brings around $1.6 million into the local community each year,” she said.
“It is a really important weekend for local businesses and for local community groups, who rely on the Kelpie weekend as a major annual fundraiser … we distribute in excess of $10,000 each year to those community groups, as a thank you for the roles they play in the success of the muster.
“The promotion that comes with the Kelpie and the muster, also sees people returning at other times of the yea, to see other aspects of the town, or to relive the wonderful time they had here, or even put the town on their bucket list, if they haven’t visited.”
After careful consideration, the decision was made to reschedule the Australian Kelpie Muster and Working Dog Auction for the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25, 2020.
“The reason the long weekend is so successful and the obvious choice, is because it is a more quiet time on the farm and it gives our travellers that extra time to get to town and get home again,” Mrs Stephens said.
“We realise that the end of October is coming into a busy time of year for our farmers, preparing hay, calf marking, lamb marking, but we needed to have that six-month buffer, to be sure that the event could go ahead.
“And we plan to run the whole schedule of events over those two days.”
She also said two key players in the muster had been fully supportive of the committee’s decision to postpone and would once again be on board, for the October dates.
“We’ve spoken to many of our dog breeders who are regulars at the auction and they are still happy to support us and hold their dogs for sale until October,” Mrs Stephens said.
“And our new naming rights sponsor, Coprice, will also be with us for the long haul. “Our brand suits Coprice and they have been wonderful, happy to support us with anything we need going forward and will be there come October.”