MEEKER I The scene at Ute Park, just west of Meeker city limits, has changed dramatically in anticipation of the 2016 Meeker Classic NCA National Cattledog Finals.
Volunteers have worked the past few weeks preparing the grounds for North America’s premier Cattledog competition.
Meeker’s reputation for dog trials, the friendly atmosphere, enthusiastic spectators, wealth of ancillary activities and quality livestock all make for a great National Cattledog Finals.
The 200 yearling heifers used for the finals are provided by LK Ranch of Meeker. Three generations of Klinglesmiths operate the LK Ranch, prioritizing family, stewardship and raising quality, high-country cattle.
Handlers, dogs and spectators will find that in keeping with the traditions of Meeker livestock, these cattle are fresh and well cared for. In addition, they have been handled in advance so that they know and respect dogs. It is a priority of the Meeker Classic, the NCA and the Klinglesmiths to provide the best opportunity for success of the dogs and handlers while ensuring the health and well-being of livestock and the dogs working them.
Meeker’s rich heritage of dog trials led the National Cattledog Association to approach the Meeker Classic about hosting a cattledog trial. A successful one-day Cattledog Trial in 2015 prompted both parties to look to the future.
NCA members and cattledog handlers were impressed by the community’s hospitality and ability to pull together and run a trial. Meeker is recognized worldwide for its reputation for putting on dog trials and will be a draw as this new event is initiated.
The National Finals will feature 145 entries competing in five classes on two courses during the five days: Open, Open Horseback, Intermediate and Intermediate Horseback and Nursery.
Joining the dogs, handlers and cattle are countless volunteers, event participants and spectators who complete the stage for this event. Vendors, artists, demonstrators and volunteers have come together to present a full range of opportunities for all interests held together with a common thread—the love of the working border collie and the love of Meeker dog trials.
All vending applications are juried and selected on the quality of their goods. Items must be handmade or made in the USA and/or relate to agriculture, cattle industry, border collies or cattledog trials. Food vendors have been selected on the uniqueness of their menus and present a wide variety of cuisine for every taste.
Visitors can watch a variety of demonstrations on pottery, leatherwork and saddle making, learn about the history of the Western hat or visit with Mae Peshlakai as she shares her Navajo traditions.
Featuring demonstrations on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are Meeker’s own Andy Goettel, Bob Klenda and Mike Brennan. A favorite in the vending tent, Andy will demonstrate his craft of pottery throughout the day (as time allows). Anyone interested can try their hand at working the clay.
Goettel was an art instructor for 34 years, and he retired from Meeker High School. As a professional artist today, Goettel operates his studio called G3 Pottery & Arts. His work is a combination of functional stoneware, raku work and sculptural forms.
Master artisans Bob Klenda and Mike Brennan will have scheduled presentations on leatherwork and saddlemaking in the vending tent as well. These local residents are practiced in teaching the art of leather work and saddlemaking in their shops, trade shows and with local groups.
Mae Peshlakai comes to Meeker from her native Arizona. She is a story teller, teacher and artist who bridges cultural gaps. A master weaver having had rugs placed in the Smithsonian, the Heard and other museums, Peshlakai generously shares her story, wisdom and culture with all who want to know. Her booth will feature her weavings, jewelry and displays of the Navajo culture.
Brook Briddle of Powder River Custom Hats is a Colorado hat maker with a talent not only for making functional headgear, but he also has a remarkable eye for design. His work stands the test of time and his reputation carries so far as to bring customers in by word of mouth.
Briddle will be sharing the history of the Western hat and special hat-care tips during his scheduled presentation time on Saturday and Sunday.
As you’re exploring the event you also may come upon Pat Sheeran-Daggett, a local artist demonstrating plein air painting—a term used to describe the act of painting outdoors.
A showcase of original fine art will grace the walls of the historic Wilber Barn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Meeker Classic Cattledog Invitational Art Show and Sale.
Work from 2016 poster artist and local resident John Kobald will be on display. Kobald has graciously donated his artwork for the 2015 and 2016 Cattledog Trials.
Sheeran-Daggett will also be exhibiting her work at the show. Kobald and Sheeran-Daggett, both professional artists, have been long-time supporters of the Meeker Classic and carry on this tradition with their support of the Meeker Classic Cattledog Trial.
Other familiar names exhibiting artwork are Jim Dawson of Crawford, Colo., Cheryl Harley-Volz of Fruita, Colo., Trish Lane of Liberty Lake, Wash., Debbie Hughbanks of Loon Lake, Wash., and Marsha Lehmann of North Dakota.
The public is invited to the Artist’s Reception on Friday, June 17 at 5:30 p.m. followed by a free outdoor concert on the site, featuring the popular bluegrass band “Hunker Down.” Bring your lawn chair and enjoy an evening of fine art and music. The vast array of food and craft vendors will be open for your perusing as well.
The Rio Blanco County Historical Society’s Heritage Culture Center is bringing historical characters for a story hour on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. and on Saturday from 5-7 p.m., a celebration of our cowboy heritage will commence with a bit of history on cattle drive days in Rio Blanco County, some cowboy music and a delicious chuckwagon dinner cooked out in the open with Dutch oven desserts, all for $12 per person.
For your entertainment, a spoof of the TV reality show “Chopped” will take place with our own cowboy-style version, involving three “chefs” facing a primitive open fire cooking challenge and three judges determining who gets chopped on each round.
Other local groups providing dining opportunities during the trials are the Masons and Stockgrowers. The Masons’ pancake breakfasts will be featured on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning—a treat you won’t want to miss. Sunday noon meal time will feature a tri-tip barbecue as the Stockgrowers and Cattlewomen join efforts for their fundraiser.
Tickets are available locally at 30 percent discount prior to the event at Wendll’s and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. Tickets purchased at the trial site will be regular price.
Intertwining dogs, stock, heritage and trade, the Meeker Classic will partner with the National Cattledog Association to bring you the National Cattledog Finals—a five-day celebration of the working border collie, volunteerism and sportsmanship.
For more information, visit meekercattledog.com or call 970-878-0111.