Jeparit vintage rally sets records

CLYDESDALE horses gave historic machinery new life at Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum's seventh annual vintage rally.

Museum committee secretary Sharon Reilly estimated more than 800 people attended the event in Jeparit on Saturday and Sunday.

"We haven't finalised the figures yet, but it's looking really good for us," she said.

"We reckon there would have been at least 400 people on Saturday, and the same again on Sunday."

Mrs Reilly said said Saturday's attendance figures could rival the total number of people who went to both days of the rally last year.

"We didn't quite make the 600 last year," she said.

"We have had a tremendous amount of support.

"The major difference is having the clydesdales here, for sure.

"People would be driving into town and you would see them, put the brakes on and have a look."

Sandy Creek Clydesdales were new to the event.

They worked the museum's horse-drawn machinery, providing attendees with an insight into how the equipment worked.

"It crossed generation gaps and made it real for a lot of younger people," Mrs Reilly said.

"To see it as a living, working museum was pretty special."

Mrs Reilly said the horses had also helped promote the event the week beforehand.

Owner Matthew Thompson, his father Peter and several of his horses embarked on a 140-kilometre journey from St Arnaud to Jeparit on the previous Sunday.

The horses clopped along the roadside drawing an old-fashioned cart.

Mrs Reilly said some people had been following the journey on the museum's Facebook page.

"We only started the Facebook page about six months ago, so we have never had that sort of thing before," she said.

"The modern and historic worlds met, but one did not take over the other."

Mrs Reilly said the rally had helped raise awareness of the museum and Jeparit.

"It's Australia's best-kept secret, it really is," she said.

As the horses' owner, Mr Thompson said the event had been equally beneficial for his business.

"If they didn't have the machinery it probably would not have been as good as it was," he said.

"Everyone got on board and it's been a good experience."


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