2019 Meeker Classic offers numerous educational programs

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Andy Goettel, a long-time Meeker resident and potter, gives a pottery presentation during last year’s Meeker Classic sheepdog trials, and he will return this year and be among many educational demonstrations that have become an important part of the five-day event in Meeker. Organizers of the classic will be bringing students in from all over Northwest Colorado who will not only watch the sheepdogs and handlers but see a wide variety of educational demonstrations that include saddle making, Navajo storytelling and traditions, Scottish pipes and drums, wool spinning, various types of art and Dutch Oven demonstrations.
Michelle Cox Photography

MEEKER | As September rolls around in Northwest Colorado a few things become very evident: the weather begins to cool (at least at night), leaves start to change and the scene at Ute Park in Meeker transforms into a six-day event centered on sheepdog trialing and education. The educational aspects of the event are the foundations for the Meeker Classic’s tax-exempt status. As part of the educational program the Meeker Classic prides itself on well-developed educational outreach programs designed to reach learners of all ages.

Each year organized school groups from across Northwest Colorado attend the Meeker Classic Wednesday through Friday free of charge. School groups are encouraged to enhance their day in Meeker with a visit to the White River Museum.

The opportunity for students to spend a few short hours at the Meeker Classic often paves the beginning of year-long learning in the classroom. Teachers use the experience at the Meeker Classic to reinforce the core subjects taught in their classrooms in addition to the history of the sport and event, agriculture and the cultural heritage of Northwest Colorado. Over the years, with the help of clever teachers, a curriculum, reading materials and hands on experiments have been developed. All teachers, new and experienced with the Meeker Classic, have access to these materials and the Meeker Classic Educational film on YouTube.

Spectators may find themselves traveling along with a school group for part of the day. Here you’ll learn first-hand from a competitive handler about the sport, listen to the art of Navajo Story Telling or learn hand spinning from the folks at Lingerfold. One can experience Dutch Oven Cooking, the art of Bee Keeping, learn about sniffer dogs, or march to Scottish bagpipes with Kaydell and Sean Stewart. Check out an 1800s sheep wagon and compare it to a modern version or slip over to the NRCS water erosion model.

Canadian handler Chris Jobe will give daily stockdog demos while the Agility and Flyball programs offer special learning opportunities for students and adults alike. Meeker High School FFA Chapter members will host a petting farm and the Farm Bureau Ag-In-Motion Trailer. Their mission is to educate the public on agriculture and offer an opportunity for spectators to meet and greet farm animals.

All of these educational programs continue into the weekend offering cross-generational learning opportunities to event visitors. Pottery, leatherwork, saddle making, and western hat history and care tips, canine assisted therapy teams and others join the lineup of folks sharing their knowledge during the event. Local cheese shop owner Vanessa Trout will offer two “Sheep Cheese Tasting” events. Community members and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of these free learning opportunities during the Meeker Classic.

Special to the Herald Times