Sheepdog trials herds up Meeker's economy

Beginning Sept. 3, the town of Meeker hosts the 17th annual Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials, an event coordinators say is the substance of Meeker's economy.

At the heart of the trials, Gus Halandras said that a recent analysis of the event showed an amount of $800,000 to a $1 million dollars brought directly to the community.

Halandras said the trials began in 1987 with 70 dogs entered and this year organizers closed the entries with 152 dogs. Spectator numbers are predicted to be more than 10,000. It's the largest sheepdog trials in the nation.

Halandras said money generated is enough to cover the costs of the event and to ensure next year's classic is secure.

The rest of the profits go back into the community.

He said money has been given to the hospital, the museum, and the chamber of commerce. The treasury also erected a statue in the courthouse lawn and bought an 1880 antique sheep wagon, which they refurbished.

Meeker has obtained an identity with the trials, having been profiled in periodicals, such as Newsweek, and Sunset Magazine.

In 2000, the event received the "Outstanding Community Initiative Award" by the Colorado Tourism Conference.

"We have been lifted up as an example," said Sandra Besseghini, publicity coordinator.

Halandras said the original idea of the trials was to benefit Meeker's economy, and now the trials have become Meeker's economy. He said Meeker could use more energy and imagination in hosting other functions to bring people to the community.

"If we can bring in thousands of people to Meeker to watch a dog and sheep play, why couldn't we bring them in for something else?" he said.

Cut line: The 17th annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials begin Sept. 3 and run through Sept. 7.

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