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Sew, it’s almost time for the 2024 Newcastle Show

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The blue, red and purple ribbons still hang proudly above the sewing machine in the spare room at Kay Fitzgerald’s Whitebridge home. 

Some of them are more than a decade old now… but they are still no less loved. 

Each represents a reward for the effort required to stitch, crochet, knit, embroider, paste or paint an entry in the annual Newcastle Show. 

The 75-year-old great grandmother can recall every piece she has entered over the years, every quilt, dress, dolls bedding set, and wall-hanging, all lovingly created in time for the three-day event that celebrates the many talents of those who call the Hunter region home. 

But, it’s not about winning, she says, and it’s not about glory, or even the cash prize. 

Delivering a piece to be exhibited at the Brambles Building on Curley Road has become a tradition that Kay and her fellow creatives hope will continue long after their names are forgotten. 

The Handcraft exhibition at the 2024 Newcastle Show is one of more than 50 free activities on offer at the popular event.

The handcraft competition has been a feature at the 122-year-old event for as long as anyone can remember. 

Every year it attracts entries in categories including canvas work, needlepoint, tapestry, crochet, beading, knitting, mosaics, macrame, and paper arts. 

Textiles, weaving, spinning, embroidery, and patchwork features as well. 

Preparing entries is an activity that attracts as much buzz as bees around a hive. 

And, for good reason, the talent required is timeless. 

“It’s important this skill doesn’t die. I don’t think it ever will,” says Kay. 

“I think in a few years’ time we’ll all be sewing our own clothes again, and knitting, and crocheting. 

“There’s something special about making something by hand.” 

arts and crafts
The 2024 Newcastle Show will be showcasing many traditional arts and crafts in a deliberate move to focus on the event’s 122-year-old history.

Kay is just one of the many men and women who spend months creating intricate pieces for the annual March event.

This year the committee received more than 200 entries.

For the past four weeks, the volunteer members have been gathering together and discussing preparations for the exhibition that looks set to continue to grow.

They have already hinted at subtle changes they hope will attract younger participants in the 2025 Newcastle Show.

“We’re hoping to introduce an upcycle category next year,” says Kay.

“We’ve already had a 17-year-old create a whole outfit from recycled materials and I think it’ll be exciting to see what else they come up with.

“You’ll have to keep an eye out for that.”

The Newcastle Show has been a community staple for 122 years.

The team behind the exhibitions, each with their own specialty, are hoping visitors to this year’s Newcastle Show will take a moment to appreciate the hobbies for what they are. 

The entries are the result of hours of work.

“It’s a skill that deserves to be appreciated,” Kay told the Newcastle Weekly.  

“If I see people walking past and not coming into the exhibition, I’m a bit of a hawker, I’ll go out and say ‘come in and have a look at this’.  

“Most of them are really impressed when they realise how much skill is involved.” 

The Montgomery Homes Newcastle Show 2024 is on 1, 2 and 3 March at the Newcastle Showgrounds.

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