Celebrating 50 years of fashion, fun and learning at Henty

September 1, 2015

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The CWA has been the backbone of Country Lifestyle for the past 50 years.

From fashion to floral art, and celebrity speakers to cookery tips, there will be something for everyone in the Country Lifestyle pavilion this year.

Country Lifestyle is celebrating its golden anniversary in 2015 after being founded by a group of Henty women in 1965.

The pavilion benefited from a tar sealed floor for the first time last year, thanks to field days principal sponsor Moane Fitzgerald Constructions, Wagga.

Country Lifestyle co-ordinator Leonie Kohlhagen said the exhibitors and visitors appreciated the firm, all-weather flooring.

This year more than 70 exhibitors have taken sites in the Country Lifestyle pavilion and 44 in the Extra Tent.

Country Lifestyle had its beginnings in 1965 when field day secretary Milton Taylor announced there was “an apparent need to provide something of interest to the farm wives’’.

The 1965 program paid tribute to the: “Department of Agriculture’s magnificent effort in arranging programs of interest to the womenfolk for the two days is especially appreciated and relieved the committee of no small burden.’’

The first woman to be included among the official guests was Mrs Hylda Rolfe, an economist with the United Farmers and Wool Growers Association, in 1968.

In 1969, president Ernie Howard mentioned in his message: “This year the Riverina Group of CWA is giving us valuable support and assistance in arranging the Ladies’ sessions for both days. I am sure the ladies do not realise how grateful we are for this help.’’

Joan Meyer, representing the Riverina Group Country Women’s Association, was invited by the Zone 7 United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association to formally stage an annual ladies lifestyle section that year.

She organised a full two days of subjects of interest to the women on the land.

Care and maintenance of the family car for women was conducted by Col Carlon, of the Department of Agriculture.

ABC gardening expert Mr Peck spoke on the farm garden with plants, flowers and trees supplied by the Opara Nursery, Henty.

The Southern Riverina County Council staged a Cooking with Electricity demonstration, and the program was rounded out by a display of spinning and weaving by Mrs P Herford, Lockhart.

At the time, the field days committee announced the Women’s Interest program would be “a major contribution to the success’’ of the event.

Joan and her band of volunteers from the Henty branch of the CWA went on to organise fashion parades and demonstrations of interest to women for the next 30 years.

By 1972, the program was featuring celebrity guests – ABC broadcaster and author Pauline Holden headlined with her topic “Freezing of Food’’.  Other guest demonstrators covered hand spinning, floral art, cooking and fashion.

The following year, the program had expanded to the extent it was held in a large balloon house, allowing an unobstructed view of the fashion parades and demonstrations.

In 1975, the Ladies Interest program was moved to a three-day format with topics ranging from handicrafts, hobbies and herbs through to cutting beef, pig and sheep carcasses.

Over the decades, the concept developed into two large marquees, each in excess of 88 metres in length, and located in Petticoat Lane.

The aim of the Country Lifestyle program was always to entertain, inform and educate.

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Leonie Kohlhagen and Lyn Jacobsen co-ordinate the Country Lifestyle program.

The Country Lifestyle pavilion has been run by Lyn Jacobsen and a team of Riverina Group CWA members for the past 14 years while the other, known as the ET, is run by Pam Hall.

An expanding program and the growing popularity of the Natural Fibre Fashion Awards led to the appointment of Leonie Kohlhagen, of Collingullie, as joint Country Lifestyle co-ordinator.

Fashion parades have been consistently popular with field day visitors, sowing the seed for the launch of the Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards in 2004.

Today, the competition is one of the major natural fibre awards in Australia, attracting international entries for the first time this year.

Last year, the accessories category was won by Northern Territory designer, Bronwyn Packwood.

Demonstrations covering a vast array of topics are held between the parades, keeping a vibrant tempo in the pavilion.

To celebrate the golden anniversary a fashion parade featuring garments from 1965 will be held on the Country Lifestyle catwalk each day.

There will be talks on changing cake decorating styles, floral art, the household and Country Lifestyle itself in the past 50 years,

Among the demonstrators invited this year is Oura resident Ann Adams, a CWA cookery entrant and judge. She will be joined by another CWA cookery judge Josie Kilpatrick, of North Albury, Albury cake decorator Kate Aldridge and florists Judy and Joanne Knoble.

“Sewing enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a masterclass workshop sponsored by Bernina and featuring Wodonga fashion designer Cathy Upton,’’ Mrs Jacobsen said.

Key guest speakers this year are the 2015 NSW Rural Women’s Award winner, Cindy Cassidy, of Temora, and men’s health ambassador and champion axeman David Foster and WIN TV weather reporter Britt Ditterich.

Other guest speakers include gardening guru Adrian Podmore, St John (NSW) area manager Helen Chant, of Albury, and Australian Melanoma Research Foundation ambassador Glenda Thomson, of South Australia.