25th Meeker Classic a reunion of sorts

MEEKER I All that brouhaha in Ute Park is a Meeker Classic 25th reunion of sorts. Among the 135 top North American border collie/handler teams competing for $25,000 in prize money are five handlers who were introduced to wily range ewes at the first Meeker Classic in 1987: Bill Berhow, Bud Boudreau, Bruce Fogt, Jack Knox and Kathy Knox.
All except Boudreau have been champions at both Meeker and the USBCHA National final and all have finalists at both trials. Competitors can expect Boudreau to be hot after that elusive top spot this week.
Those keeping an eye on Boudreau include prior Meeker Classic champions Suzy Applegate (2010), Amanda Milliken (2009), Dennis Gellings (2008) and a long list of familiar Classic finalists and semi-finalists. Aficionados will welcome our own Colorado competitors Keith Fassbender (Durango), Lise Andersen (Colorado Springs), Melinda Brenimer (Ft. Lupton), Larry Adams (Windsor), Terry Murray (Peyton), Cathy Balliu (Ft. Lupton), Mike Furcolow (Paonia), Linda Whedbee (Ft. Collins), Richard Bailey (Crawford) and Jim Swift (Grand Junction).
Swift debuted in Meeker in 1988 and has competed almost every year since. He has also often helped the Classic with promotional demonstrations across the state. Among many other familiar names is Red Oliver who, at 89, is the oldest competitor. Also hoping not to get “Meekered” are several newcomers who have had little or no experience with unpredictable range sheep.
There will be at least one spectator celebrating the 25th reunion. Cindy Dennison accompanied her mother, the late Jean Daugherty, to the first Classic and has returned every year. “I really come to see the dogs,” she confesses. “Also, the people are so down to earth, so friendly, take time to get to know you.” Cindy also has an entry in the art contest which is on display with the other entries in the Wilber Barn.
There is more than just dogs to the anniversary celebration. Tonight the winner of the annual art contest will be announced at the Art Social at the Wilber Barn from 5-7 p.m. Tomorrow and through the weekend the RBC Masons will serve pancake breakfasts on site and there will be spinning, weaving, pottery, painting and leather-working demonstrations. Shannan Koucherik and her therapy dogs, and Western Border Collie Rescue will be there. Educational seminars about cooking lamb, leather-working and saddle making, and border collies are not to be missed.
The courthouse lawn is the venue Saturday for the Lions Club barbecue at 5 p.m. and Chuck Pyle’s country western concert from 4-9 p.m. The Jackpot Competition starts at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds.
In addition to the thrill of the semi-final and final runs on Saturday and Sunday, during the noon break professional New Zealand sheep shearers will compete in timed rounds for prizes and Jack and Kathy Knox will demonstrate the fine points of dog handling. There will be a petting farm for the kids, a bagpiper and at noon on Sunday the Colorado Woolgrowers’ traditional lamb barbecue.
For more fun and to avoid parking jams, the Meeker Streaker and Anne Marie Scritchfield’s carriage offer rides to and from the site. Donations for the free transportation are welcome.
There is much more than just dogs to the celebration. Tonight the winner of the annual art contest will be announced at the Art Social at the Wilber Barn from 5-7 p.m. The rest of the week there are barbecues and pancakes, demonstrations, educational seminars, free Chuck Pyle concert, petting farm, free carriage and shuttle from town and more.
Look for the schedule of events elsewhere in this issue and at www.meekersheepdog.com.