This weekend Hotchkiss will be rolling out the red carpet. Dogs and their handlers are getting ready to compete at the popular Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials. The trials draw handlers and their working dogs from California, Minnesota, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Missouri, North Carolina and Colorado. More than 80 dogs will be competing over three days, from May 10 to May 12.
The trials are a collaborative affair, with founder Richard Bailey presiding over the competition with the help of local ranching couple, Gordon and Cheryl Hebenstreit. Dennis Williams from Sundance, Wyoming, judges the event. He has been involved with border collies for over 20 years and has traveled and competed in many trials in North America. Larry Allen provides the sheep. The announcer is Les Mergelman and the competitions and demonstrations take place on the Hotchkiss family fields. The weekend also enjoys the support of the town of Hotchkiss and numerous Hotchkiss businesses and local participants.
The event can always use more volunteers, however. Contact information is www.hotchkissdog
trials.com, Gordon Hebenstreit at 970-589-2139, or Richard Bailey at 970-216-5771, for anyone interested in spending a memorable weekend helping with the trials.
The admission fees are $4 on Friday, $5 on Saturday and Sunday. Children under 12 are free. Food vendors will be on the grounds all three days with FFA alumni providing ground lamb burgers on Saturday and Sunday. Craft vendors will show their wares throughout the weekend. There will be a sheep wagon on site for viewing. Demonstrations include presentations by the San Juan Weavers Guild and sheep shearing demonstrations by Doug Hamilton from 10-4. Sharon Northrup from Crawford will be running her dog, Earl, in the open classes. Earl is also featured on this year's hats. Covered bleachers are provided but viewers can bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
The art work of western artist, Cheryl Harley-Volz, entitled "Me First," is featured on the program cover and t-shirts. Her work is displayed nationally and often features in the Meeker International Sheep Dog Trials Art Show. Earl's photographer is W.T. Bruce.
Bailey and the Hebenstreits would like to thank the following volunteers, who have made the event possible for the last 15 years.
Jere Hollembeak has sold tickets at the gate for 15 years. Hollembeak taught Les Mergelman, who has been the announcer for the life of the trials. Evelyn Roseberry and The San Juan Weavers Guild have been faithfully demonstrating their artistry for the last 15 years. Doug Hamilton's sheep shearing demonstrations always draw a crowd and add to the weekend's events. Stretch Fehlhaber has been a "behind the scenes" man for the last 15 years. He helps set up the trials and then takes them down afterwards. He is instrumental in handling the sheep and dogs.
Richard Bailey, the founder of the trials, is, sadly, retiring from an active role in the trials and from trialing his dogs. He will still attend, and will enjoy visiting with the handlers and the spectators and sharing stories about the border collie breed.
As well as the sheepdog trials, the Mothers' Day festivities include the following events in and around Hotchkiss.
• Free town picnic presented by The First State Bank of Colorado on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on 1st Street next to the bank.
• Memorial Hall Yard Sale organized by the Beta Sigma Phi sorority.
• Hotchkiss Friends of the Library spring book sale in Memorial Hall. Books, cds, dvds, movies and more are on offer for very low prices. Fri./Sat., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Rogers Mesa Modern Woman's Club holds its annual fundraiser and bake sale, its main source of funding for the preservation of the 111 year old society and its headquarters, the Rogers Mesa Community House on Hwy. 92. May 10 and 11 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Community yard sales take place in and around Hotchkiss all weekend. Treasures abound.
• ARBA sanctioned rabbit show at Heritage Hall, Saturday, May 11, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• The Hotchkiss-Crawford Historical Museum is open, free to the public Friday and Saturday. The museum offers a look into early days in the Valley.
• Ute Trails Car Club Show at Zack's BBQ in Hotchkiss. May 11, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch available, provided by Zack's. $15 entry fee to show your car. Cool cars of any vintage welcome. Free bus shuttle between Zack's and trial ground, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
So join Hotchkiss in celebrating its unique down-home history and culture. There is something for everyone this Mother's Day weekend, with spring lending a lovely hand in presenting the Friendliest Town Around.