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MEEKER | Many “lamb” traditions have surrounded the annual Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials for 31 years. This year a new family event is being added to all the fun. Downtown plaza in Meeker will be the site for our first Jammin’ Lamb Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9, a culinary competition with the cooking contestants right on Main Street (between Sixth and Fifth streets) surrounded with heritage demonstrations, cash bar and live music.
The contestants will demonstrate their culinary skills at preparing lamb utilizing their own cooking station on site and will be prepared to submit samples to the judges by 4:30 p.m. and serve samples of their creation to the public by 5 p.m. Each contestant will be given 50 pounds of lamb shoulder or ground lamb to bring a dish for the festival crowd to sample—using their own recipe.
A big thanks goes to Mountain States Rosen Company, American Lamb and Lamb Colorado for providing the meat for this culinary competition. Also, thanks to the ERBM Recreation District and Sean VonRoenn for being involved to make this festival a success. The three judges for this culinary competition are media personalities.:
Heidi, mayor of HeidiTown, a virtual town that promotes tourism and festivals all over Colorado and six surrounding states. Heidi is a freelance writer for various outlets and the Western Destination Blogger at Mountain Living. She’s also the reporter-at-large for the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor and has a strong social media presence. Heidi is often the “taste tester” for festivals as she travels and writes about her experiences.
Barbara Platts is an award-winning columnist who enjoys reporting on everything from mountain town culture to Denver’s most intriguing cocktails. She spends her time between Aspen and Denver, working with several media outlets including The Aspen Times, Telluride Daily Planet, Aspen Public Radio, to name a few. Next to writing and adventuring, eating is one of her first and truest loves. She looks forward to checking out the town of Meeker and trying some delicious lamb.
Pat Turner, is the co-owner of the Rio Blanco Herald Times in Meeker. His wife says he’s guaranteed to be the pickiest eater on the panel. This is his first experience as a judge, and one of only a handful of times he’s tried lamb. Contestants have their work cut out for them to impress this judge.
Judges will determine which contestant has the tastiest, most tender and most creative lamb dish.
A people’s choice award will also be presented at the award ceremony at 6:30 p.m., with an impressive prize donated by Valley Ace Hardware.
Ten dollars will get you 10 ticket stubs to build a meal with lamb samples from the contestants, sides from the Lions Club or a Dutch oven dessert or pie from the Sheep Camp Wagon. Each person will also receive a people’s choice ticket to vote for their favorite contestant. Proceeds benefit the Lions Club and the Old West Heritage Culture Center.
Here’s how it could work: let’s say there is one contestant whose recipe appears to be your favorite, you can use four of your ticket stubs to get four lamb samples at their station and spend your other tickets on sides or desserts. Or if you want to experience them all, you can use eight of your ticket stubs to try lamb samples from each of the eight contestants and still have two tickets left for a side or dessert. If that just whetted your appetite, you can go back to the ticket booth and purchase another $10 set of ticket stubs for ‘seconds’. Each station requires one ticket stub per tasting dish.
Bring your lawn chair or grab a place at tables set up around the lawn area to enjoy an evening of food, great bluegrass tunes from Casserole Beans followed by Matt and Shana Holliday music and fun.
To round out the experience, the Lions Club offers a cash bar and don’t forget the heritage demonstrations which include a historical sheep camp wagon with stories from Mona Avey, Dutch oven cooking with Jeff Rector, Living Water Fibers, a family owned alpaca and sheep ranch located in Northwestern Colorado, demonstrating how raw wool and other fiber gets from the animal, spun into yarn, and eventually into fabric and a “ranch kids and sheep” photo prop booth for kids.