A NEW speed shearing series is set to light up the Eyre Peninsula and help reinvigorate the region's local shows.
With a winner-takes-all grand prize of $5000, the Bendigo Bank EP Speed Shearing Competition kicked off with the Elliston Speed Shear on Saturday, and will be held in conjunction with country shows at Wudinna, Kimba, Cleve, Yallunda Flat and Cummins.
Willing shearers will have to shear at a minimum four of the six competitions to be able to qualify for the semi-finals and final, which will be held at Cummins on October 12 after the final regular round.
Cummins Show president and event coordinator Raymond Whillas said a leaderboard would display the standings at each show.
During the regular rounds, competitors will receive one point for entering - but zero if disqualified - two points for fifth, four for fourth, six for third, eight for second and 10 for first.
The top 10 qualifiers will earn a place in the semi-final, with the top five from the semi-finals facing off in the grand final.
Mr Whillas believes the competition could spark many positive flow-on effects.
"I think this competition could have huge benefits," he said.
"The EP is an attractive base for shearers, with low house prices and the sheep numbers and amount of work available.
"Money starts to circulate in your towns and if there's more shearers here it'll make it easier for graziers to secure shearers when needed.
"Kids will also look at this competition and may see it is a career path they want to take."
Mr Whillas said although it was a towns competition, it had the backing of local shows and would be beneficial for them in turn.
EP Country Show Association secretary Janet King believed the competition would bring in a new crowd to country shows, helping to reinvigorate the ailing events.
"Shearing is one of the most popular drawcards for country shows," she said.
"We're hoping this competition will bring a lot of foot traffic through the gate.
"As shows, we've got to look at the whole family picture, including the fathers."
Mrs King was confident that ideas such as the shearing competition, and more involvement from the next generation, would ensure the future of the country show scene.
"If we don't get youth involved we'll have no succession and I can see shows across the state starting to die," she said.
"With young judges competitions and other events, rejuvenation is happening and I think shows will grow because we're including schools and young people."
COMPETITION SET TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY TIES
CUMMINS Show president and shearing series event organiser Raymond Whillas said each town hosting a round of the Bendigo Bank EP Speed Shearing Competition would choose their desired format.
"The formats may vary a little," he said.
"For example, at Cummins they'll shear one sheep for time, while others might do two sheep each to give competitors a second chance."
While formats may vary slightly, the placing points and other competition rules are set in stone.
Any sheep with a cut in need of stitching and any sheep with a full staple of wool left on are instant disqualifications, with all sheep to be judged to sale standard.
Bendigo Bank and Rural Bank will sponsor the competition, with Bendigo Bank Port Lincoln business manager Phil Channon saying they were proud to be involved with an event that focused on community prosperity.
"The three community bank branches on the Eyre Peninsula - Cummins, Port Lincoln and Tumby Bay - support our communities," he said.
"This competition is being combined where possible with the shows that have been running on the EP for many years.
"These shows have struggled over recent years to remain relevant so by supporting an event such as this, in with the show, we hope will provide two-fold benefits.
"It will bring more people to the shows to keep them going and a prize of $5000 is a good drawcard for shearers."