Monday, April 22, 2024

Nothing quite like women coming together for women

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March 8 marked International Women’s Day. Lou Bartlett shares her takeaways from the women-led all women event, The Shepherdess Muster.
Flower crown workshop at The Shepherdess Muster. Photo: Supplied
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By Lou Bartlett

Riding shotgun in my friend’s car as we drove to the small village of Motu, I remember wondering ‘What exactly are we in for here?’. Full of excitement and anticipation, we were heading to the Shepherdess Muster, a three-day women’s festival hosted by the Shepherdess magazine.

It was the 16th February, a Friday afternoon and after a long hot day of driving from Manawatū through many road works, we were nearly there. Through rolling hill country, the road to Motu (an hour out of Gisborne) felt remote and peaceful. As we arrived, bright coloured flags, marquees and tents appeared, contrasting with the beautiful green landscape. Flocks of women were walking around, all looking as enthusiastic as we were. I could already tell we were going to have an amazing time.   

I had previously seen the inaugural event advertised on social media. As this was my first ‘Muster’, I had no idea of what to expect and as a creature of habit I was a little apprehensive of diving into the unknown. 

The camping arrangements had been set up in a paddock opposite the Motu School, where the main event area was held. After settling into our pre-assembled teepee style tents, we headed to the marquee for the welcoming from the Shepherdess crew. Close to 300 women, of all ages and stages of life had come to attend the Muster. Thinking we had journeyed a long way from Manawatū, I was in awe at how many others had traveled from far and wide. Some from as far as Invercargill and even Australia, showing the strong desire for rural women events like this. 

That evening, we were all served canapés & drinks in the main marquee. Decorated with local cut flowers and fairy lights, it felt as though you were attending a wedding, and it was lovely to be wined and dined for the night.

Over the course of the next two days, the Muster was jam-packed with options to choose from. There were plenty of guest speakers and workshops, bringing a variety of topics that ignited interesting conversations with others. Market stalls and beauty appointments to attend to and if you felt up to it – morning fitness.

One reason I had enjoyed the event was the chance to connect with other like-minded women. In normal day to day life, it is so easy to only mix with your own circle of friends, especially living rurally. Being out of my comfort zone, talking to other women and hearing their stories was really encouraging to me. 

Secondly, I enjoyed the chance to retreat away from normal life. Whether working on the farm or in an office, tending the home or raising a family; whatever we do, we do a lot. It can be difficult to remember to take time out for yourself, and to just be you.  The ‘Shepherdess Muster’ was the perfect chance to relax, unwind and get a break from the usual day to day grind of normal life.

All in all, I thought this event was very much needed. The event did what it had intended to do; brought women to connect and celebrate who we are, in turn filling our cups and leaving us all inspired. The Shepherdess Muster is planned to be held in the South Island next year, I highly suggest it if you’re a woman that needs a good old serotonin boost to get a ticket.

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