Long-time Wangaratta Sports Carnival organiser Graeme Taylor has wrapped up his 40-plus year association with the event by writing a book on its history.
More than two-and-a-half years in the making, A History of the Wangaratta Sports Carnival has compiled a century of highlights from the popular athletics, cycling and woodchopping meet.
Taylor described the task of collating all his research as a "labour of love" but was thrilled with the final product.
"I was trying to identify every known member that has been associated with the club over the years, so that was probably one of the most tedious tasks, but hopefully I've identified all those people," he said.
"It was a case of trying to recognise all the people who have been directly involved, but also to acknowledge the participants.
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"The athletes, cyclists and wood choppers have made the carnival what it is over the years.
"A lot of them have been international competitors. At one stage it was recognised as the biggest carnival in Australia."
Taylor said the carnival was in its prime in the 1950s and 60s and ran as a three-day event from 1968 to 1993.
"You had the likes of Sid Patterson and Barney Ewell, there were big crowds and big gate takings," he said.
"In the early part of the book I've tried to do a snapshot, not of every year in the 100, but most of them.
"One thing that sticks in my mind is when Ewell and others from overseas came and competed and you think about how they actually got here. They would have had to come out on a boat and it amazed me how we got these international competitors across."
Another highlight for Taylor was the sealing of the cycle track in 1981.
"We were still the only dirt track in Australia and I think the writing was on the wall if we didn't get it sealed that we probably would have been in trouble then," he said.
"It kept the cycling going for many years. Through the Rural City of Wangaratta, we were able to get a grant to do that work.
"We've had a number of local winners in the gift and the wheel race and I've given particular attention to them."
Taylor said the book has been promoted through the Victorian Athletic League and Cycling Victoria and copies have already been distributed to South Australia and Queensland.
The book is available at Edgars Books and News in Wangaratta or through Taylor on 0419 373 154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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