From My Window… Septemberfest a great time; Meeker Classic in progress

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Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
The summer activities continue in Rio Blanco County, and the focus this past weekend was Septemberfest in Rangely. Septemberfest is three days of fun activities, good food, water and mud, a parade, great entertainment, an ice cream social and an impressive car show.

While most major town activities seem to be aimed at pulling outside people and outside dollars into a community, Septemberfest seems different. It seems more like a small town just out to enjoy itself — happy with each other and their friends without having to please an outside influence.
There were actually a lot of folks from Meeker and around the county and there were also quite a few people passing through who thought Septemberfest was a pretty neat little festival.
Bob and Gloria Hassrick from Des Moines, Iowa, were just passing through on their way to Yellowstone, and Monday was supposed to be a driving day. They arrived in Rangely intent upon getting a tank full of gas and left many hours later.
“We were stopped to get gas and noticed people lined up on the main drag,” Bob said, “When we were done at the station, we started to leave, finding out that we are just minutes away from the start of the town’s parade.
“We decided to watch the parade and really enjoyed that, but now we find ourselves at this arts and crafts fair and car show (at Elks Park),” Gloria said. “I’ve already spent more than $100 and I’m not even half way around the arts and crafts show.”
There were some neat things on display in the arts and crafts booths, and some of the cars, trucks and trikes at the car show were really beautiful. The colors of the cars parked in the sun were mesmerizing, the various smells were reminiscent of a garden selection and it was good to see several booths from Colorado Northwest Community College out there promoting dental hygiene; the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams each had a booth; and the college even had one of its planes from the flight-training school on display in the park.
Personally, my favorite vehicle in the park was the 1930 Detroit Electric car the Striegel family had just purchased in Worland, Wyo. (Its picture is located elsewhere in today’s edition of the Herald Times.) In this day and age of electricity-aided, fully electrical and hybrid vehicles, which run on electricity and gasoline, how many people knew there were fully electric cars on our roads at least 84 years ago?
The 1930 Detroit Electric has a tough steel exterior, which means it is really in pretty good shape and seemingly as sturdy as the day it was built. The interior is old, but what would one expect after 80 years?
Bud and Grace Striegel said their intent is to restore the car to as original a product as possible. Let me tell you, when that baby is complete, it is going to be a spectacular vehicle and serve its purpose as an eye opener to what used to be and is just becoming again.
I tremendously enjoyed Septemberfest last year and this year’s event, I believe, was an improvement on that event.
It is nice to see a small town enjoying itself.
It was great seeing the home folks enjoying the pancake/sausage/eggs breakfast served by the fire department; seeing the adults and kids playing in the mud with the obstacle course and tug-of-war; enjoying a pork barbecue at Elks Park on Sunday night that was sponsored by a local church that wasn’t turned into a religious event; the bull riding by locals; the wide variety of parade entrants; the work put into all the vehicles at the car show on Monday and all the arts and craftsmen (and women) who showed off their wares at the crafts air.
Congratulations, Rangely, on being yourself. It was a tremendously fun, low-key but very well attended series of events that made up Septemberfest. You, as a town, did yourself proud.

This week, the attention turns back to Meeker with the Meeker Classic Championship Sheepdog Trials, which will kick up with the start of trials on Wednesday morning.
I think we all (at least us older folks) remember seeing once or twice a year on ABC’s Wide World of Sports a few decades ago the Scottish clans getting together for some sheepdog competition. Way back then, it wasn’t all border collies that were showing their prowess, but it was really interesting to watch the old herdsmen (always men back then) call in their sheep and corral the herd from maybe 100 yards away.
This Meeker game? It is serious. It is intriguing and it takes place as the team of handler and dog work together covering an area many hundreds of yards away. It is an extreme exhibition of how man and animal can work together and communicate together from what can be a distance that mere mortals might not even be able to hear each other.
Man and canine work with precision, crossing paths with nature, and that can make for some interesting times. These humans have trained these dogs to react to sounds, words, motions and noises. That these dogs can react the way they do to a minimum of handlers’ actions is a credit to the border collie breed.
That they can sometimes misunderstand the handler’s command makes those great dogs … well … almost human. And after watching a few great examples of communication between man and dog and bearing witness to what might not be one of the smoothest performances ever, it really isn’t tough to recognize that the collie feels badly about any mistakes, taking on nearly human emotions.
By the end of a run, with few words (or expletives), the observer knows exactly what the handler and the dogs have on their minds and how they feel.
The food is good (yes there is lamb) and widely varied, the on-site art is splendidly focused on the border collies, lambs and the handlers. But to see the interaction between man and dog, is, as the ad says, priceless. And worth much more than the price of admission.
Those who put on the Meeker Classic Championship Sheepdog Trials should be most proud because this is a true world event with many nations represented among the 125 competing dogs. They put on a good show, they are good hosts and they truly do what they can so the contestants and their dogs are comfortable and that all feel at home in Meeker.
But along with the usual avalanche of things to do with the trials themselves, the numerous volunteers are vital to the success of the trials. Volunteers help with scoring, they park the cars, they police the trash in the area, they sell tickets and they help the “officials” and “organizers” make certain that everything goes well.
And there is a small handful of folks who helped prepare Ute Park for the trials, starting weeks in advance of the event. Grass must be mowed, fences need to be fixed and positioned, obstacles and barriers must go up so the dogs know where to direct the sheep, tents for the various displays and vendors have to be raised and the area has to be spruced up.
My MVP for this year goes to Meeker Mayor Regas Halandras. Not working as mayor and not working for anyone else, even though his family has a long and stellar standing with the trials, Regas has spent numerous hours out there working alone, doing a vast number of small chores and major tasks to get Ute Park ready to host this prestigious event.
Thanks, Regas. We spectators and, I am certain, the contestants and organizers appreciate all the work you have done.
Everyone, have a great weekend.

But the sheepdog trials don’t wrap up the season’s activities although we are less than three weeks from seeing the official end of summer.
Already some of the leaves are turning that bright yellow color that indicates that the autumn (sounds so much more welcoming than ‘fall’) is nearly here, followed by you know what…
But before that, mark the last Saturday of the month, Sept. 27, for the Mountain Valley Bank Fall Festival. The event is co-sponsored by WREA and the ERBM Recreation and Park District.