Rounding up a good time
Organizers of the 20th annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials are expecting a large turnout for the event’s silver anniversary.
Between 8,000 and 15,000 people take part in the four-day event each year, said Ellen Nieslanik, event director.
“This is our 20th anniversary, which makes this year special,” Nieslanik said. “Usually, there isn’t a motel room left in town. We have a really loyal spectator base.”
This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 6 to 10 in Meeker.
More than 120 sheepdogs and their owners from across the globe compete. They are from such destinations as South Africa, Denmark, Sweden and Canada.
The dogs and their handlers will compete for a purse totaling $20,000.
The Sheepdog Championship Trials are free and open to the public.
As a testament to the event’s popularity, Nieslanik said 60 dogs are on the waiting list to enter the competition if others drop out. The roster of competitors filled up just a few days after registration opened.
“We’ve got some big names just waiting,” she said. “It’s just that the list filled so quickly.”
The sheepdog trials began two decades ago as a way to stimulate the local economy. The idea of the sheepdog event was born out of rural Meeker’s rich tradition in ranching.
“They dreamt up this idea to use what we have,” Nieslanik said. “We have been very popular ever since.”
Dogs will compete in various events, including contests in voice command, fetching and fieldwork.
Activities for spectators include a daily craft fair, food booths, weekend pancake breakfasts and a Sunday lamb barbecue. Other entertainment will include dog exhibitions and bagpipe music.
Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, sunscreen and binoculars.
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