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MEEKER | The Meeker Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary Sept. 7-11, 2011. It all began in 1986, with a discussion in Gus and Christine Halandras’s kitchen about ways to boost the flagging local economy.
Locals Marv Brown, with some experience in trialing, and Laura Lou Watkins, a dog trainer, suggested turning to the area’s cultural heritage and sponsoring a sheepdog trial. Marv Brown took charge of the trial side of things: preliminaries in the field at Jerry Seely’s Flag Creek Ranch, the finals an arena trial at the county fairgrounds. Gus Halandras focused on the financial aspects and with a handful of volunteers put together the rest of what they thought an event they had never seen ought to look like.
The Classic is now known and highly respected worldwide. As Jack Knox tells it, folks even talk about Meeker in Scotland. It is not just a sheepdog trial. It is, as Amanda Milliken puts it, “a happening … the big ticket item in sheepdogdom.”
The story of how the Classic rose from humble beginnings to become the “granddaddy” of American trials is absorbing, often funny and occasionally astonishing.
The entire tale is told in the Meeker Classic’s complimentary 25th anniversary booklet, titled “Something Useful and Unspoiled.” Writer/historian and Meeker Classic devotee Keith Chamberlain compiled this entertaining account from archives and dozens of interviews as his invaluable gift to the Classic on its 25th anniversary.
This delightful booklet is free, thanks to the generosity of ExxonMobil and the Rio Blanco County Lodging Tax Fund. The booklet is available at most businesses throughout town and can also be found at the White River Museum, the Meeker Recreation Center and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
Don’t miss the special commemorative events at this year’s trials in Ute Park. Seminars offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were chosen with Meekerites and Classic aficionados in mind. Those who long to know Christine Halandras’s culinary secrets will learn a few in her cooking classes, “Taste of Colorado Lamb,” complete with samples of keftedas and various sauces. Meeker’s world-renowned saddlemakers, Bob Klenda and Mike Brennan, will teach the basics of leather work, handy repairs and more in their “Leatherwork, Repairs and Saddlemaking” classes. Veteran trialer and trainer, Chris Jobe (who demonstrated how border collie puppies work ducks last year), and Chris Goetz of Western Border Collie Rescue will share the lowdown on these amazing dogs at “Border Collies–Training, Trialing and Working.” Sign up for these seminars outside the Education Tent at the site.
The schedule for these seminars and the many other activities that make the Meeker Classic a “happening,” like the art social on Thursday evening, sheep shearing contests, Chuck Pyle country concert, pancake breakfasts, lamb and pork barbecues, demonstrations and more, can be found elsewhere in this issue of the Herald Times and at www.meekersheepdog.com. Advance tickets and discount tickets for Rio Blanco County residents are on sale at Wendll’s and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. The shuttle and carriage schedule from town to the site is posted at the Post Office. For special assistance for a ride, call 970-878-9368.