The David Harrigan Pavilion at Tony Luchetti Showground was a hive – or should that be hen house? – of activity in the lead-up to the annual all-breeds poultry show on Sunday, August 13.
Boasting real coffee, lots of baked goodies and a craft table for the kids, the event will showcase breeders from around the region, with prizes on offer to senior and junior competitors.
For the second year in a row, all the available boxes have been taken for the competition. The success has spurred organisers, the Lithgow and District Poultry Club, to dream of expansion.
A new direction
The scene is very different to that five years ago, when the club was preparing for its show with just four or five active members.
Now, with more than 30 members, Lithgow and District Poultry Club is acknowledged as a fast growing and, more importantly, friendly family club.
Where did its new members spring from? You may have guessed it: Social media.
Several of the group’s dedicated new committee, who are all women, made contact with each other on social media sites for people who loved all things feathered and fowl.
Based in the Blue Mountains, they went searching for their closest club and they found it in Lithgow.
Their enthusiasm has resulted in Pat Gallagher becoming “the rooster in a hen house”, the sole male member of the committee, a situation with which he was quite happy.
“We came because we love our chickens,” breeder and club member Carmen Prendergast said.
“A lot of people are wanting to get back into teaching kids where their food comes from. People want to keep chooks, just like everyone did 50 years ago.”
That being said, not everyone loves chickens as much as this group. They swap stories of seeing people’s eyes glaze over as they delve into their favourite subject.
The group comes from diverse backgrounds, united on social media sites by their passion for chooks of all shapes and sizes, laying eggs of all colours. Together they can talk about chickens with no judgement, and plenty of rueful understanding about how addictive breeding can be.
“I came from Leichhardt and barely knew how to keep a cactus alive,” Belinda Heath said.
“When I moved to Wentworth Falls, my sister-in-law gave me a chook pen as a house warming present.”
She did not expect to be draw “deep down into the world of chickens” but now has a collection of feathered friends.
For fellow member Margaret Latty, seeing the delicate, feisty beautiful little Sebright chickens was love at first sight.
“I needed to know more about them and I found the club,” she said.
“Everyone made me feel so welcome.”
The group involves their families in their hobby, which they all say is very relaxing, “like feathered Zoloft in the backyard,” Belinda noted.
“You can lose hours watching them,” Margaret said.
“It’s very romantic and old fashioned to me watching chooks in the garden. Life is so busy and so hectic – it’s a similar reason to why people love gardening, I suppose,” Carmen noted.
It’s very romantic and old fashioned to me watching chooks in the garden. Life is so busy and so hectic – it’s a similar reason to why people love gardening, I suppose.
The club is involved in heritage breeding, to keep pure breeds alive. Each member has their own breed that they know and love and together they endeavour to keep species on the rare lists ticking along.
They keep the best to breed and sell the rest to people who want backyard egg layers.
The annual Show can be a good opportunity for enthusiasts (and beginners) to find breeds they like and be connected with established breeders.
Planning for the future
The club has reached its capacity in terms of the amount of birds it can show.
Entries had to be turned away this year due to the numbers wanting to take part, and the numbers of bird boxes are limited to 366.
“We need to double our shed size,” member Kara Cooper said.
“We are working towards trying to expand, we’re talking about it all the time.”
The club will be working with Lithgow City Council, who owns the facility.
“We've had interest from schools and the Waterfowl Association to run shows here. That’s bringing people to Lithgow,” Pat said.
That in turn was doing good things for local accommodation outlets and eateries.
Take a look
Judging will be getting underway at the shed this Sunday at 9am, featuring soft and hard feathered birds, waterfowl and bantams.
Junior breeders will be an important part of the action, competing for titles and prizes.
All are welcome. Visit their Facebook site for more.