A SCHOOL fete is set to be the biggest event to happen in Wyee since the Australian Canal Jump Championships.
As locals prepare to welcome guests for the inaugural Wyee Round Up fundraiser on November 25, memories of the old “canal jump” days have been swirling on social media.
The event, held every three years from 1977 until 1995, attracted thousands of spectators as men, women and children attempted to hurl themselves across Wyee canal using a long metal pole.
“It was such a massive day out,” Hollie Wright, of Wyee, said.
“They’d have the canal jump, but they’d also have an event called the greasy pole – it was just a full day of shenanigans.”
The competition was cancelled when the water level became dangerously low, and the insurance costs to cover the event increased.
Canal jumping is also known as “fierljeppen” – meaning “far leaping” – in The Netherlands, where it is believed to have originated with farmers who used poles to vault over their small water channels.
“People would come from far and wide to attend the canal jump, and everyone hung around for a bush dance that night,” Ms Wright said.
“People have been suggesting I get it back on track.”
Ms Wright is part of a committee behind the Wyee Round Up, a fundraising fete for Wyee Public School. She has no doubt it will be the biggest community event to happen in Wyee for 21 years.
“We’re only a school of 208 kids, and we just have no funding,” she said.
“The wooden chairs have been there since my husband went to school there. Some of them are falling apart and we need to replace them.
“But what started as a simple school fete to raise money has just gotten bigger and bigger.”
Ms Wright said there would be carnival rides, a superhero show, pony rides, show bags, dog sledding and markets at the event.
“It’s like a mini Easter show,” she said.
When it came to canal jumping, it was hard to keep up with the Jones’.
Former 1989 Australian Canal Jump junior champion Martin Jones, now of Budgewoi, said his older brother had won the senior competition, and his sister had won the women’s event one year.
“Mum won the gumboot throwing,” Mr Jones laughed.
He said there was also eel fishing, pillow fights and brick-throwing competitions. Envelopes of $5, $10, and $50 were put at the top of a slippery pillar for the “greasy pole competition.”
About 5000 people attended the final 1995 event, which raised $30,000 for the local bush fire service and community, largely thanks to funds raised by the Miss Wyee Canal Jump entrants.
The Wyee Round Up, which – despite requests from locals – will not include a canal jumping component, will be held on Friday, November 25, from 2pm to 8pm at Wyee Public School.