Charles Sturt University, Centre for Rural Social Research
'Sheepvention' is an annual event held in Hamilton, south western Victoria. It brings together farmers and a range of other exhibitors, as well as inventors who are marketing new products and services for wool growers - thus the name Sheepvention.As part of the 25th Sheepvention, RMIT University undertook a visitor survey to learn more about the people who attend this event. The survey indicated, revealingly, that 67 percent of people attending Sheepvention are not directly involved with wool and sheep meat production, even though this is the event's core business.This paper asks: Why do so many local people who are not directly involved with the sheep industry attend Sheepvention each year? It explores what attracts them, and what this tells us about the importance of these types of events in communities more generally.Most Sheepvention attendees live in the rural town of Hamilton (pop 9000) or the surrounding region; they come to Sheepvention to simply 'have a look', 'learn something', meet friends' and 'catch up with what is happening in this industry'.This paper offers a message for policymakers about supporting such events, suggesting that the current focus on events as generators of tourism and income overlooks the deeper roles such events can play.