THE 142nd Australian Sheep & Wool Show promises to be much more than an agricultural event - it offers three days of exhibitions, education and entertainment across all sectors of the industry.
Thousands of farmers, traders and members of the public will converge on the Prince of Wales Showgrounds in Bendigo from July 19 to 21 to celebrate the best quality sheep genetics, discover the latest innovations and showcase the industry's important and diverse contribution to everyday life.
Australian Sheep Breeders Association chief executive officer Margot Falconer said the ASWS had attracted strong interest from exhibitors across the nation, defying early fears of a slowdown.
"Despite widespread drought across Australia, we anticipate sheep and fleece entries to be on a par with previous years that have drawn around 3000 live sheep from 30 different breeds," Ms Falconer said.
"This year, we have more Merinos displaying than in any of the past five years.
"We also have almost 450 individual trade sites and in that respect, we are full, there is virtually no space left anywhere."
The feature breed is the Polwarth - developed in Victoria during the late 1800s from Lincoln and Saxon Merino bloodlines - coinciding with the centenary of the Polwarth Sheep Breeders Association of Australia.
It is the 20th year, the ASWS has been staged in Bendigo, bringing economic benefit to the community and providing a top-class venue for stakeholders to network with their peers.
Ms Falconer said it had evolved into an event offering a colourful carnival atmosphere.
"For the farmers, the ASWS is definitely all about the sheep," she said.
"But for the public, it's about the entertainment and the total package."
The National Fleece Competition and judging to determine champions including the supreme prime lamb, supreme long wool and Merino national pairs headline the showring schedule.
Other highlights include Woolcraft, shearing and wool handling competitions, twice-daily fashion parades, the Festival of Lamb culinary experience, Women of Wool luncheon and Lambition dinner.
The main arena will become a hub of activity, featuring yard dog trials, an animal nursery, the Careers and Technology centre and various stallholders.
Livestreaming the ASWS
ALL roads lead to Bendigo during the ASWS - even the cyber highway.
For those not able to attend the event in person, a livestream of selected sheep competitions and the Merino ram sale will be provided on the Stock & Land website.
More than 9300 online viewers watched the livestreamed segments during the show at the Bendigo showgrounds last year, and it is expected that even more digitally-savvy people will tune in to this year's coverage.
Sponsored by rma network, this year's internet streaming service starts with judging of the Polwarth feature breed category, from 9am on Friday, July 19.
This will be followed by the Merino Pairs from 5.30 on Friday evening and the Merino supreme and grand champions final at 1pm on Saturday, July 20.
From 10am on Sunday, July 21, viewers can see champions from across a range of breeds vying for supreme titles in the interbreed competition.
The Merino ram sale at 1pm on Sunday will also be livestreamed, but this is only available as a viewing tool and cannot be used as a bidding platform.
To see the action remotely, visit the Stock & Land website and click on the Australian Sheep & Wool Show banner up the top.