Paddock to Plate Success
Over 70 visitors arrived in Warracknabeal over the weekend to experience the best of our region, our country hospitality and our local produce. Organised by the Rotary Club of Warracknabeal, visitors came from the Rotary Clubs of Essendon, Wyndham, Geelong, Swan Hill ( DGE Rosanne & Peter), Horsham East, Nhill, Beaumaris, Belmont and Maryborough (DG Anthony Ohlsen & Kerrie) .
Friday night was an informal Pizza Night welcome, especially for our Wyndham Rotarian friends. The Warracknabeal and Wyndham clubs have had a strong 10 year relationship, initiated by Rob deVries, who now lives in Wyndham. The city club has generously donated over $5000 towards our Warracknabeal Primary School Free Breakfast program that runs every Tuesday during the school year. The clubs have regular reciprocal social visits, and it was nice to host them for this big weekend.
On Saturday more visiting Rotarians and friends joined us for guided tours of  Warracknabeal, the famous Silo Art Trail and local farms.   As this was the first farm visit for many, it was a real eye opener to see and learn of the complexity and high tech world that is farming today.
Ben Bentley’s eight stand shearing shed was transformed into a restaurant for the Saturday night signature event, the Paddock to Plate dinner. Over 130 people- locals and visitors- dined in the ‘rustic meets elegant’ setting for a three course meal and entertainment.
The evening began with a skilful shearing demonstration from talented young Wimmera shearers, Sean Brazendale and Josh Bone. Experienced ex-shearer and Warracknabeal wool trader, Stan Deans brought the history of the great Australian wool industry to life, as he gave a very interesting and informative commentary during the shearing.
Mayor Graeme Massey welcomed guests with an overview of the significant economic contribution of Yarriambiack Shire agricultural industries to Victoria and beyond. Rotary President Chris Hewitt, followed, describing our pride in living in this region, and our aim of the weekend to promote our place, people and produce. Rotarian farmer, Tony Gregson, briefly explained our grain/legume/sheep industry, and its positive future, and then described the menu chosen for the night.
The meal, catered by well-regarded Digby chef, Randall Scott, featured some of our local produce-tasty lamb kofta in chick pea crumb, Saltbush lamb with chick pea, pistachio and spice stuffing, tangy lemon tart with wattle seed ice cream, were just some of the flavours.
Available from ‘The Baaaaa’, you could try Sapporo beer, which uses the high quality Wimmera barley that is favoured by the Japanese brewery. Also on offer were award-winning regional wines from Norton Estate (south west of Horsham) and Bests at Great Western.
Raffle prizes of local produce were won by our Essendon visitors….taking a bit of the Wimmera with them.
In his closing remarks, Chris Hewitt outlined the Warracknabeal Rotary Club’s ambitious plans for establishing a Country Education Foundation in Warracknabeal, the first in Victoria, and servicing our local area. Chris said “The foundation would provide grants and funds to assist local children with their post secondary education needs.”
By the end of the night, The Rotary Clubs of Wyndham and Essendon had given $2500 towards the foundation, with pledges from the other clubs present. This is a great example of the power of a large organisation like Rotary to help to make change and improve the lives of others. Plus we meet a lot of great people and have fun while doing this.
The night itself raised approximately $4000 for our club, and was hailed as a great success. 
Chris thanked everyone involved in organising and supporting the night. A special thank you to our sponsors–The Bentley Group, Woodbine Inc, Wimpak, Norton Estate winery, Luv a Duck.
The night finished with a lot of fellowship, laughs, conversations with new friends, and listening to the talents of local musicians, John Butcher and Frosty Gunn.