Keith Whitsed from Corryong in Victoria traveled up for the Warwick Rodeo. Here he holds a photo of the reenactment of The Man From Snowy River, at a festival he started in Victoria in the mid 1990s.
Keith Whitsed from Corryong in Victoria traveled up for the Warwick Rodeo. Here he holds a photo of the reenactment of The Man From Snowy River, at a festival he started in Victoria in the mid 1990s. Jonno Colfs

Man from Snowy River at Warwick Rodeo

AT 84 YEARS of age, Keith Whitsed's days of rodeo and campdraft competition are behind him, but not that far behind.

Mr Whitsed, from Corryong in Victoria, last competed in the campdraft at the Warwick Rodeo 10 years ago, at the ripe old age of 74.

His greatest achievement however is being the man behind the famous annual Man From Snowy River Bush Festival in northern Victoria.

In 2018 the festival will run from April 5-8.

Each year prior to the festival about 50 horse riders set out on a four-day trail ride, known as Riley's Ride.

Riley's Ride is named for a stockman Jack Riley, who it's said is the inspiration behind Paterson's poem.

The ride takes place through the breathtaking scenery which gave poetic inspiration to Banjo Paterson's The Man From Snowy River poem.

Mr Whitsed said he first started the trail ride in 1989.

"We have limited places every year and every year the spots are filled well in advance," he said.

"Then in 1995 we were approached by a Melbourne historian to see if we would run a festival in Corryong.

"We formed a committee and it just snowballed from there.

"Today it brings in 20,000 people to the town and has been a great hit."

Mr Whitsed no longer rides in the trail ride but proudly takes his place at the head of the street parade that kicks off the festival.

"It was the best thing to happen to the town," he said.

"Every year they do a full re-enactment of the poem, with men, women, cattle and horses and thousands pack in to watch.

"I'm very proud of the festival."

Mr Whitsed acts as chairman of the festival committee and employs three full time staff, as well as being a semi-retired daity farmer.


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