Gloucester Bowling Club a venue for Women's Bowls NSW 2019 State Carnival

A helping hand: Members of Gloucester's men's and women's bowling clubs volunteered their time to keep the event running smoothly. Photo Anne Keen
A helping hand: Members of Gloucester's men's and women's bowling clubs volunteered their time to keep the event running smoothly. Photo Anne Keen

If someone calls out to you "happy carnival", would you know what it meant?

According to Women's Bowls NSW president, Maryann Parcell, it's the call of the players in the State carnival.

During a visit to Gloucester on Tuesday, May 28, one of the many clubs locations in the region for the 2019 State Carnival, she told the players that if you see someone around town, greet them by saying "happy carnival".

"If they know what you're talking about then they're one of us," Maryann said. "If they don't, then recruit them."

Lawn bowls is a sport that seems to be growing if the number of women who signed up to play in this year's event is any indication.

"We have 268 teams of fours. We normally stop at 192, but we had so many people wanting to play, we didn't want to turn them away," Maryann explained.

The increase in numbers meant an increase in venues needed.

When Tuncurry Beach club was given the approval to host the event, it put a call out to the nearby clubs to offer up use of their greens, and Gloucester answered loud and clear.

Maryann Parcell

Maryann Parcell

It's the first time Gloucester has been included as a venue in the annual event, which changes locations every two years.

There may have been some concerns about the distance of travel between Tuncurry and Gloucester, as the players rotated to different venues through the three main day of competition, but Maryann was quick to respond.

"If we didn't have Gloucester and Bulahdelah clubs involved then 200 players would have missed out on the event," she explained.

"Wherever we go there's always travel."

It was Maryann's first visit to Gloucester and she was hooked.

"It's so welcoming and hospitable," she said, admiring all the home cooked goodies and lunch plates the Gloucester members had prepared for the event.

"It's real country hospitality."

Members from Gloucester's women's and men's bowling clubs were on hand to help keep each of the three days of play running smoothly; some umpiring, some keeping the greens tidy, while others made sure all the players were feed and watered.

Gloucester women's club had four players competing in the event, each playing with a different team, something that Maryann said is very common.

"It's a bit of a reunion for the players. Some play with women they've met over the years," Maryann said.

"It's a bit of a holiday with a bit of bowls thrown it."

She reckons it has a lot to do with the nature of the sport, being quite a social environment.

"It's not just putting a bowl by the jack, it's the community that goes with it."

The event took place from Monday, May 27 to Friday, May 31, with the first three days consisting of teams playing two games per day of 18 ends at nine venues between Gloucester, Taree, Tuncurry, Pacific Palms and Bulahdelah.

From Thursday all games took place at the host club, Tuncurry Beach with the quarter finals, semi-finals and finals finishing up live-streamed on the Women's Bowls NSW Facebook page on Friday afternoon.