Casino preschoolers get moo-ving and mustering for Beef Week

Preschool students in Casino have embraced Beef Week. Helen Gregory reports.

Students with a toy horse. Students with a toy horse.
Image: Sometimes it's hard to wait your turn. Millow Lawler does his best to be patient while Olivia Stewart hands over the reins to Miyah Walker.

Public school preschoolers were among the youngest participants in Casino’s 2024 Beef Week celebrations, enjoying whip cracking demonstrations, hat-throwing competitions, a moo-off and hobby-horse relays. 

Children from Casino Public School’s Djanangmum Preschool and Casino West Public School’s Little Jarjums Preschool joined their schools at Beef Week on Friday 24 May. 

Casino Public School’s Djanangmum Preschool also joined in their school’s Muster Day activities. 

Djanangmum Preschool teacher Emily Roalfe said the school’s Muster Day had run for more than 40 years - and the preschool had been participating for 30 years. 

 “We keep it simple, it’s the old style coming together- it’s not always about how fancy something looks or is, but it’s the connection built in those times,” Ms Roalfe said. 

 “We’re the beef capital of Australia and we have a rich history in agriculture. 

  “It’s a time of year we want to celebrate how significant a part of us it is, our local culture, our traditions and the generational connections here. 

 “The school being involved is a key part of us connecting with our community.” 

 Ms Roalfe said the beef industry employed several children’s family members. 

 Many parents and staff had attended the school and recalled their own Muster Days. 

 “The memories aren’t just held somewhere in an archive - they’re held by staff, the children, their families, their grandparents who went to school here,” she said. 

 “It’s very multi-generational.” 

 Muster Day started with a visit from mounted police before preschoolers performed the heel-toe polka fand paraded in their costumes to match the Beef Week theme, Retro Rewind. 

Djanangmum preschoolers enjoyed a barbecue lunch, which included a disco ball sub, before participating relays on hobby horses and using rope to lasso chairs in the afternoon. 

Casino West Public School’s Little Jarjums Preschool joined in their school’s Beef Week Hoe Down. 

Little Jarjums Preschool teacher Amy Clark said Beef Week was more than just a festival. 

“It’s the core of our community, alive with the spirit of country, rural life and agriculture,” she said. 

“For our preschool and school, it’s not just an event to mark on the calendar, it’s a vital opportunity to weave tighter bonds with our community, engage deeply with our roots, and celebrate the essence of Casino’s dynamic history.” 

Ms Clark said in the lead-up to Beef Week preschool teachers had been speaking with children about why it was such a significant event in Casino. 

 “Through these discussions, they learn about the values of community, tradition, and unity,” she said.

“It’s a time for them to connect with their heritage, express themselves, and celebrate the unique identity of Casino West.” 

 Little Jarjums preschoolers enjoyed a whip-cracking demonstration, participated in a moo-off, paraded in their farmer costumes and joined in a throw-the-hat-on-the-cowboy game. 

They also enjoyed a barbecue lunch, performed a dance, and watched teachers, older peers and parents participate in a relay to dress a mannequin as a farmer. 

Ms Roalfe and Ms Clark said preschoolers participating in whole-school events, including during Beef Week, helped them develop social skills, fostered connections and a sense of belonging and made their transition to Kindergarten smoother.

The NSW Department of Education has 101 preschools, including two distance education preschool classes for geographically isolated children. 

The NSW Government will establish an additional 100 public preschools in public schools by 2027, with 49 located in regional and rural parts of the state.

Two students looking through a glass frame. Two students looking through a glass frame.
Image: Students from Casino Public School’s Djanangmum Preschool and Casino West Public School’s Little Jarjums Preschool joined their schools at Beef Week.
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