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MEEKER | When September rolls around the Meeker Classic will be adding an additional day to their typical five-day sheepdog trial. “One might think of it as a post COVID trial with an extra day thrown in as a big thank you to all of our friends,” said board chair Regas Halandras of the recent decision to add an additional day and 35 dogs to the competition. This means 170 dogs will run in the preliminary runs Sept. 7-10. The semi-finals and finals will be run as they typically have with 30 dogs up on Saturday, Sept. 11 and the top 12 advancing to the finals on Sunday, Sept. 12.
“During the 2020 year of COVID-19 we were overwhelmed by the support from handlers, sponsors, friends and our community,” noted Jessica Browning, “Thanks to the help of so many the Meeker Classic was able to maintain their viability as an organization.” The choice to add an extra day was driven largely by the desire to give back to the folks that have lent their support of the Meeker Classic. An extra day means that 35 more dogs can run, and more people will be coming to Meeker a day earlier. This will lend a positive effect on the businesses and the economy of the area.
Meeker’s popularity with the handlers rests in the competition, the sheep, and the community. Many mark Meeker as the “go-to” trial on their list. “What makes Meeker special are the people and the community, this is not just a trial put on by handlers, but by the whole community — all are involved, and all take ownership,” said veteran handler Jack Knox of Butler, Missouri. “When I go to Meeker, I know that every other handler has as good a chance as I do, and we have the sheep to thank for that.”
In addition to hosting 170 dogs from across North America, plans for the 2021 Meeker Classic include the annual Art and Photography Contest and Show, a full slate of artisan craft and food vendors, education programs and the ever popular Jammin’ Lamb Festival. Hoping to offer opportunity for locals and others to watch the dogs, Tuesday will be offered as a free admission day at the Meeker Classic. There will be limited amenities on Tuesday, but everyone is welcome.
Some new special attractions include the “Wild n’ Wooly” 5K, 10K and 25K Trail Races hosted by the ERBM Recreation and Park District on Saturday. The Purina Performance Dog Team will be the noon entertainment on Saturday and Sunday — these dogs travel around the world doing demos and providing thrills for the audience. For those who are unable to attend, but want to experience the Meeker Classic, they can watch via live streaming on the Meeker Classic website and Facebook page.
The Meeker Classic is looking forward to sharing time with old acquaintances and making new friends as the community tradition marks its 34th year. As always, volunteers are welcome and a necessary part of what makes the organization run. Contact the Meeker Classic at email@example.com or 970-878-0111 or reach out to the Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
PRESS RELEASE | Special to the Herald Times