The Central App

WoolOn 2023 coming together

The Central App

Tracie Barrett

22 May 2023, 6:00 PM

WoolOn 2023 coming togetherModels display a selection of winning garments from 2021: (from left) Schools Award winner designed by Maddie Welbrock, Technical Award went to Laurel Judd, as did the Avant Garde award, and Nicola Donald won the Novice section. PHOTO: Lisa Hill Photography

The venues are booked, fundraising is going well and entries are coming in to fit the grand design for the WoolOn Creative Fashion Awards 2023 - a fashion event with a strong Central Otago flavour.


WoolOn began in its current format in 2004 and was initially a key event of the Alexandra Blossom Festival, held each September.

In 2016, WoolOn cut its ties with the festival to become a major event in its own right, attracting national and international entries.

The last event was held, with great success, in 2021 with the last year’s plans unravelling because of Covid-19 uncertainty.

This year, with a new energised committee, WoolOn is set to return to Central from August 11 through 13.

Committee member Claire Becker is overseeing sponsorship and funding for the event, which is expected to cost just upwards of $100,000. 

Combined grants from the Cromwell and Vincent Community Boards amount to $9,990, Central Lakes Trust granted $14,000, local sponsors are coming onboard and applications are in to other funders.

A colourful cape by Lauren Judd won the Accessories section in 2021. PHOTO: Lisa Hill Photography

”We are delighted at the progress so far,” Claire said.

The Canyon at Tarras Vineyards is a major sponsor of the event and will again host the gala-style runway show and announcement of winners, although this year that will be divided into two shows on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Committee member and design liaison Jamie Richards said those in attendance would vote for their own favourites, with a People’s Choice award given each evening.

Sunday’s events would be held at Central Stories Art Gallery and Museum and across the road at the Alexandra Community House and would involve groups and individuals throughout the community.

Titled ‘The WoolOn Community Expo - a celebration of wool’, the day would feature educational workshops with local craftspeople who work with wool, video of the previous evening’s runway shows, a market for wool products, and talks from the competition judges about the winning garments.

Entries are open until June 3 and Jamie, a professional fashion designer for 23 years who sells through her Clyde store Margaret Wray, is happy to help those entering where she can.

“They can come to me if they want advice on construction or their fibre content,” she said.

Organisers are also open to approaches to anyone with wool-working skills they would like to share with the community during the Sunday expo.

WoolOn is essentially about the community, Claire said.

“Personally I see this as an event and an opportunity that promotes wool generally and any promotion we can do around wool is good for our community and the environment.

“We have had great community support. People really are interested and want WoolOn to be part of their annual calendar.”