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Top Kiwi Entertainers set to light up World Shearing Champs

Two of New Zealand's finest musical performers will be rocking the boards at February's Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool-handling Championships in Invercargill.

Celebrated New Zealand musician Jason Kerrison is returning to his home town to perform at the championships, which run from February 9-11 at ILT Stadium Southland, with Wanaka's country-rock starlet Jody Direen also set to light up the stage.

Kerrison said he was excited at the prospect of playing the World Championships in his home town in front of the thousands of people from New Zealand and around the world who will be gathered for the event.

The Opshop frontman has been in huge demand in 2016 with gigs recently in Fiji, a role in Dunedin's Grease: The Arena Spectacular and a new record deal with current band Fungi. "I think it's going to be a really fun gig, and coming home to do it is going to be awesome."

Direen is recording her third studio album in Australia, which she expects to release early in 2017. "The album's sounding amazing," she said. She was right at home with rurally-focused audiences and was excited to be part of the entertainment lineup for the prestigious event, she said. "I think the shearing champs and audience that it pulls will really appreciate my music. I'm really looking forward to performing at the event." Direen's country-rock-pop crossover sound has been a huge hit with listeners and audiences in New Zealand and Australia.

Event Manager Jade Gillies said it was a real coup for the event to sign up two such highly-regarded performers. "I've seen both of them live and and they're both excellent performers." Corporate seats to the event were almost sold out, while three-day season pass tickets were also selling quickly. The strong early response from the public for tickets had delighted organisers, and will help ensure the atmosphere inside ILT Stadium Southland is electric during the competition, he said. "It's a really packed programme of shearing and wool-handling and having Jody and Jason to perform just tops off what will be an unforgettable occasion for everyone who attends." Direen is performing on the Friday night during the Southland All Nations final, with Kerrison taking the stage on Saturday night during the world championship finale event. "The shearing itself is incredibly entertaining. We're putting on a show, it's not just sheep shearing," Gillies said.