Colorado is home to National Purebred Dog Day, and in 2015, it became the first state in the country to recognize May 1 as National Purebred Dog Day. In 1987, Colorado also became home to one of the world’s toughest sheepdog trials, the Meeker Classic.
The idea for the competition was hatched at a kitchen table. Locals, Marv Brown and Lou Watkins, were sitting at the kitchen table of town mayor, Gus Halandras, and his wife, Christine, when Gus mentioned that he was looking for an idea to bring commerce and people to the community. As sheepdog trainers and trialers, themselves, Brown and Watkins suggested a sheepdog trial, and boom! an idea was born. The first Meeker Classic Sheepdog trial was held on Sept. 17, 1987.
Over the years, handlers from all over the world have attended the Meeker Classic because it’s a real challenge.
First, there’s the rough 600-yard-high course that, at an elevation of 6,240 feet, is well above sea level. Add to that sheep that are notorious for their toughness and independence. These are not dog-wise sheep. In fact, the competition is the first time that some of these Meeker sheep have laid eyes on a dog. The trials mimic real-life farm or ranch situations. Around 170 Border Collie/Handler teams competed in the 2019 test held last weekend for $25,000 in prize monies. It took 750 sheep to provide each handler with a fresh group for qualifying runs.
For a taste of what the Meeker Classic is like, take 26 minutes out of your day to watch a video from 2018:
You can see the results from the 2019 competition here.
The event has grown to include an Artisan, Craft and Food Festival, Art Contest and Silent Auction, along with daily demonstrations. It has retained a marvelous small town flavor while attracting global competition.
Image from the Meeker Chamber of Commerce which shares an assortment of fun things to do in Colorado, but shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.