As more than 200 shearers and woolhandlers line up for events throughout the country over the weekend, a warning has been sounded about the future for some competitions.
It's set to be one of the busiest weekends of the shearing sports calendar with six competitions spread from the far north to the deep south over the next three days.
The competitions will be held at Lumsden on Friday, Kaikohe, Wairoa, Takaka and Winton on Saturday, and Levin on Sunday.
Long-time Lumsden competition secretary Patsy Shirley said by mid-morning Thursday she had received just 32 advance entries, for competitions which in their heyday had well over 100 competitors.
On-the-day entries are expected to at least double the number, and organisers have about the same number of sheep available as last year, when world champions Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, and John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, were first and second respectively in the open shearing final, and world woolhandling champion Joel Henare, from Gisborne, won the open woolhandling title.
Kirkpatrick, who went on to beat Stratford at Winton 24 hours later, was not among the early entries for this weekend's shows, but Shirley said the 13 open shearing entries include Stratford's 2018 UK tour New Zealand teammate, reigning national lamb shearing champion David Buick, of Pongaroa, and Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan.
But no entries had been received for the junior shearing and just one in the intermediate grade, while just two entries had been received for the junior woolhandling.
Shirley said a lot of hard work was put into organising the competitions and raising sponsorship, but they need the support of the competitors and all of the industry to survive.
"It's a shame they don't turn up," she said. "It doesn't take much, they've all got cellphones, and it would help if they entered early."
All of the competitions this weekend are at A and P shows, except for the Lumsden events which will be held at two woolsheds in the area, the shearing starting at 8am tomorrow at the Selbies' property at Five Rivers and the woolhandling starting at 9.30am at Long Range.
A range of speed shear competitions are also being held.
There is a speed shear at the Wairoa show on Friday night, and three in Southland, starting tonight at the Railway Hotel in Otautau, followed by the Middle Pub speed shear in Winton tomorrow night and the Colac Bay Tavern speed shear on Saturday night.
Most of those taking part in the longwool championships at Lumsden are also expected to be at Winton the following day, and some of those competing at the Wairoa show on Saturday, are likely to also compete at Levin 340km away the next day.
Machine shearing will be held at all six competitions, and woolhandling will also be contested at Lumsden's Northern Southland Community Shears and the Southland Shears' national crossbred lamb shearing championships 52km away the next day at the Winton A and P Show.
Read more about rural events here.