A year of firsts for the Meeker Classic

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Nell the Border Collie waits patiently for direction from her master at the 2017 Sheepdog Trials. Caitlin Walker Photo

MEEKER | Traditions continue in Meeker as the community looks forward to the sight of handlers and their border collies pulling into Ute Park. Not far behind them come truckloads of yearling Merino ewes just separated from their flocks in the Colorado high county.

Up go the tents, fences and signs as volunteers and vendors make ready for the celebration. Artwork and photography adorn the walls of the historic Wilber Barn and 600 pounds of lamb is ready for the culinary competition.

Soon visitors and dog enthusiasts will flock to Meeker for this annual celebration called the Meeker Classic. The annual tradition returns and with it some exciting new things that enhance the event.

The Town of Meeker has been hard at work at Ute Park this past year. Led by the efforts of Russell Overton, an extensive watering system, weed mitigation and rock clearing regime has enhanced the resource and made “greener pastures” at the base of the cliffs that welcome travelers as the enter town from the West. The combined efforts of the town, lessee David Smith Ranches and Ute Park users models good stewardship and conservation.

Due to continued increased entries, the Meeker Classic has added an extra day and 40 more dogs to the competition. The event will now run for six days and feature 170 border collies.

Visitors to the Meeker Classic will be treated to a new color scheme and sheep boasting new collars in bright colors designed to coordinate with freshly painted panels on the course. The traditional white panels will now be a royal blue. Recommended by handlers, the color is said to be more easily visible against the grass and forage of the trial field.

As we grow and work towards a better tomorrow, we honor the traditions of the Meeker Classic. Let’s pay tribute to the many dogs, handlers, volunteers and stakeholders that have left their mark on this event.

Special to the Herald Times