Thousands of people came to Meeker to witness the birth of a new Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trial champion at the finals held Sunday.
Beverly Lambert, from Andover, Conn., and her dog, Pippa, were the team winners, scoring 109 in the finals. A veteran competitor, she left immediately left for Sturgis, S.D., to enter the United States Border Collie Handlers Association National Championships. Lambert was awarded $10,000 in prize money.
Last year, Pippa held the title of reserve champion at the National Finals.
Second place went to Dennis Gellings and his dog, Jan, from Alberta, Canada. Third place was awarded to Stormy Winters and dog, Roy, also from Canada.
Four countries, 24 states, and four Canadian provinces were represented at this year's trials, with more than 150 entries at the time of closing.
Canadian announcer Art Unsworth said the Meeker Classic offers unique challenges for handlers and their dogs in that the sheep are out on the range all summer long without exposure
"Our sheep come to town for the first time, not in the mood to be pushed around in a nice, straight line," he said.
Unsworth said the Meeker Classic's greatest challenge is its "tremendous success."
He said the event dictates brings in more than 100 volunteers who must find parking places, lodging, and dining along with the thousands of spectators and handlers.
Fifty-seven artists from Canada to Texas entered the Poster Art Contest, vying for next year's program cover and souvenir merchandise. Kathy Rippy Fleming of New Castle, Colo., won this year's competition.
Second place went to Thad Matthew Morgan, and the Best of Northwest Colorado title was presented to Shirlee Coy.
The challenge for the teams is a rewarding one, Unsworth said.
"Handlers enter the arena of competition, one after another, full of confidence and talent -- only to be at times humiliated to 'retirement' and disbelief, then vow to be back next year and triumph,"