Meeker Classic herding sheepdog talent for trials starting Wednesday | CraigDailyPress.com

Meeker Classic herding sheepdog talent for trials starting Wednesday

Carly Thomson, Meeker Classic Publicity Chair/For the Craig Daily Press

Things will get wild and wooly at the 29th annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials in the following week, with more than 100 border collies from around the world competing for the top prize.

— There are 130 border collies from around the United States, Canada and South Africa on their way to Meeker where they will match up against the famous Meeker sheep for one of the world's toughest sheepdog competitions in the 29th annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials

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Starting Wednesday and running through the following Sunday is a premier sheepdog competition that draws on the area’s ranching and cultural heritage and creates a community event that provides a venue for education, information and communication.

A free outdoor concert, demonstrations, art show and craft and vending fair provide something for everyone.

Celebrated for showcasing the elite dogs and handlers of the world, Meeker knows these folks and their black and white companions as friends and family that they look forward to seeing each year. Visitors to Meeker become part of the family that shares the journey to compete on the field, grow, train and develop the skills to meet the challenge of the course and the sheep — they celebrate the successes, share the disappointments and in the end, enjoy the time together. There's a common thread that pays homage to the dogs — it transcends generations, cultures and livelihoods and brings people together each year in this annual celebration and competition.

The five-day sheepdog competition culminates on the weekend, with a semifinal round Sept. 12 and the finals Sept. 13. Judged by Johnny Robinson, of Berwickshire, Scotland, each of the 130 dogs will be sent over 550 yards to gather the sheep and bring them in through a series of obstacles in the infield. The top 30 advance to the semifinals and 12 of those will compete on the final day.

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In addition to the sheepdog competition countless vendors and artisans host a craft and food fair offering exquisite cuisine and hand-made wares while demonstrating their craft to all who are interested. One can watch Navajo weaving, felting and saddlemaking while kids can throw pottery or visit the FFA petting farm. Celtic musicians and storytellers, flyball and agility demonstrations and border collie training clinicians offer up educational opportunities for all interests and ages.

The Meeker Classic International Art Contest and Culinary Taste of Lamb Cook-off takes place Thursday evening at the Wilber Barn on the trial site the evening and is a favorite of locals and visitors showcasing Colorado lamb and the finest original sheepdog art to be found.

Award-winning, nationally recognized cowboy entertainer Gary McMahan will be the featured entertainment for the FREE outdoor concert Saturday evening, Sept. 12 on the courthouse lawn. A singer, songwriter, yodeler, humorist and cowboy poet, McMahan is known for his award-winning songs, captivating stories, uproarious humor, and national championship yodeling. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Garth Brooks, Ian Tyson, Chris LeDoux, Riders in the Sky, Dave Stamey, and Juni Fisher. His songs, stories, and poems embody what many believe to be the heart of the new West. He has received the most prestigious award in Western music: a National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award. His poems have been published by the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada.

Dawn Boyce, long-time Meeker sheepdog handler and competitor from Georgia, will orchestrate her "Ducks in Space" production in Meeker this year. Showing off the border collie talent and instinct, she will entertain the crowd with her dogs. In a rare display of partnership between handler and dog, she invites kids from the audience and uses multiple dogs to herd the Indian Runners. Her narration follows the progress of the crew across the “galaxy” of obstacles and safely back to earth. Boyce, her dogs and ducks will be performing during the lunch hour of the semifinal and final days of the competition.

Additionally, area students, including those from Craig elementary schools, will be learning more about the use of sheepdogs and their effect on agriculture.

For more information visit http://www.meekersheepdog.com or call 970-878-0111.

If you go

What: 29th annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials

When: Wednesday through Sept. 13

Where: Outside Meeker along Colorado Highway 13

More information: The event features more than 100 border collies competing in herding trials, as well as a full schedule of educational and entertainment opportunities. For a full schedule, visit meekersheepdog.com.

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