Rochester Sheep Dog Trials to leave town without community support

By James Arbuthnott

The Rochester Sheep Dog Trials had to abandon its fourth annual competition this year due to a lack of community support and entrants.

Organiser Des Church said there weren't enough entrants to warrant an award, and, without enough volunteers and land, next year's competition might be forced to move to Lockington or Echuca.

“I don't want to take the trials away from Rochester, but I don't think I have a choice,” Mr Church said.

“The popularity is still there and I've had numerous phone calls about the trials, but I had to cancel because it costs about $1000 to run and I need to make that money on entries.

“We're hanging on and if there's a way we can keep it in Rochy, we'll do it.”

Logistical hurdles for the competition include finding council land which allows farm animals and working dogs on its turf, as well as booking availability during football grand final season.

“We started our first year with around 70 entries,” Mr Church said.

“There are only ever three sheep on the ground at any one time and each owner picks up after their dog.

“I moved here 18 years ago and haven't looked back — my family and my kids are here.

“We just need a couple of volunteers to run around like gophers for a few days.”