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Good to go ... Waimate Shears president Warren White is ready for the 50th anniversary. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

Preparations were ahead of schedule for the Waimate Shears when the Oamaru MailĀ checked in on Tuesday.

Organising committee president Warren White said the event, being held for the 50th time this weekend, was “looking really good”.

Sponsors’ signs were being put up at the new pavilion at the Waimate Showgrounds, which was built in time for the milestone, after two years of planning and fundraising.

Having it completed and already hosting public fixtures was satisfying, and attracting positive feedback, Mr White said.

“Everyone’s blown away, really.”

The 900sq m fully insulated building, owned by the Waimate A&P Association, includes toilet and shower facilities, bar, kitchen, dining room and barbecue area.

A dinner to celebrate the Waimate Shears’ half-century was held there last night, ahead of the woolhandling and shearing activities starting today.

They continue all day tomorrow, culminating in the presentation of blade and machine shearing prizes and special awards and trophies in the evening. A live band will encourage everyone to stay and unwind.

A highlight promises to be a blade shearing transtasman battle at 6.30pm tomorrow. Australian shearers will take on their Kiwi counterparts, and the New Zealanders will cross the ditch for a return match next month.

Mr White called it the “Bledisloe Cup of shearing”.

He was delighted with the number of entries in the shearing sections, with “good support” from local proponents.

Another coup was the attendance of shearing royalty Sir David Fagan. The 16-times New Zealand Golden Shears and five-time world shearing champion was the guest speaker at last night’s dinner and would help out at a skills session at Mark Murphy’s property this morning.

However, one factor beyond Mr White’s control was the weather. A few fine days were needed to ensure a mob of sheep stuck on the far side of a creek would be able to make it to the pens on time.

If that proved impossible, the organisers had “a few back-ups” in mind. “We’ve got some cunning plans.”

The public is welcome to attend the Waimate Shears free of charge. Mr White hopes a lot of local schoolchildren will go along, having enjoyed recent shearing demonstrations. A hogget he took to Waimate Centennial School stood calmly while it was patted by about 170 children.

There was “tons and tons of room” for car parking at the showgrounds, but to make the occasion even more user-friendly, courtesy vans would be ferrying people to and from the town.