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No go . . . Gillian Parkisnon showcases one of her intended entries in this year's WoolOn Fashion Awards before the event was cancelled. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/GILLIAN PARKINSON

ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

Disappointment is circulating in Alexandra following the cancellation of this year’s WoolOn Fashion Awards, and fears are now mounting it could be taken away from the town next year.

WoolOn Fashion Awards chairwoman Victoria Ravenscroft told Allied Press following the announcement there was no guarantee the event would remain in the region.

“The WoolOn committee is exploring all options.”

The cancellation was announced on June 1, a decision which “was not made lightly”, she said.

Barely weeks before, information was being published about this year’s WoolOn event, several months before it was due to take place in late August.

“It is not that anything has ‘gone wrong’ per se,” Mrs Ravenscroft said.

“When the announcement was made, WoolOn had identified Molyneux Stadium as a venue after the warehouse, where numerous previous events were held, became unavailable.

“Further investigations into the stadium however, illuminated multiple issues around logistics, cost and health and safety, with these issues not becoming fully apparent until late May.”

She said Dunstan High School’s gymnasium, which had also been used in the past, was not an option because the event had “outgrown the venue”.

Designers were informed of the cancellation about two weeks ago.

Sponsors were also notified “accordingly” of the decision to cancel and supported that decision, Mrs Ravenscroft said.

Sponsors have already indicated their interest and support for 2020, an event the committee was now working towards, she said.

“The WoolOn committee is currently discussing the infrastructure of WoolOn and how we can make this more sustainable moving into the future, given the high costs of running a quality event.”

She said designers can ask for this year’s entry fee to be returned, or left in to carry over to 2020.

However, designers would not be reimbursed for costs incurred in making their creations so far, because they could enter them in next year’s event, she said.

Among those “disappointed” by the cancellation was Roxburgh woman Gillian Parkinson, whose shawl was highly commended in the accessories category last year.

She was about to enter in this year’s event when she found out it had been cancelled.

Mrs Parkinson planned to enter two garments and was “tossing up” whether to enter a third.

She had invested countless hours and hundreds of dollars in her entries, which included spinning wool, dying it and knitting the garments.

One of her intended entries was a floor length, hand-knitted cardigan, which she estimated would have cost her up to $800 to create.

Although designers were usually tight-lipped about their entries before the awards, Mrs Parkinson was happy to reveal an explanation of her creations planned for this year’s event because she would not enter them next year.

Instead, she planned to spend winter wearing them.

“I won’t be entering them next year because they won’t be in brand new condition.”

If she entered next year she would start from scratch.

She said cancellation of the event was “a real shame”.

“For me, I thought it was really disappointing, because the event was so well done last year. It was surprising that it was postponed at the last minute like that.”

Mrs Parkinson hoped it would not be taken away from Alexandra.

“It seems to be progress these days. [Events] start in a . little town and community and then the big guns come in and take it to the city. It would be really disappointing,” she said.

“It would be great to see it grow. The event last year, I thought was magnificent.”

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said he was also disappointed by the cancellation, “both for the community and for Victoria and the committee”.

He said securing a venue “has always been a major headache for WoolOn” and solving that problem would help ensure it was not cancelled again in the future.

Mr Cadogan said WoolOn was “very valuable” to the Alexandra community and he would be disappointed if the town did not retain the event.

“Having been involved with WoolOn in one guise or another since the very first show, I would be very disappointed if it were not to continue in Alexandra.”