Handlers traveled from California, Utah, Montana, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, North Dakota and other parts of the state to take part in the 15th annual Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials.
Over three days of competition, the handlers worked with the dogs to herd small groups of sheep through a course laid out in a pasture owned by the Hotchkiss family.
Competition was exceptional this year with a number of dogs in each class vying for the top spot.
The event was judged by Bill Orr of Virginia, who commented that Hotchkiss hosts the best "little" trial in the west. "The town, the hosts, the scenery and especially the sheep are fantastic," he noted in the program.
Competition took place just south of the downtown area, providing easy access to the other events in town -- an open house at the North Fork Ambulance Association's new training facility, the ARBA-sanctioned rabbit show at Heritage Hall, the Ute Trails Car Club show at Zach's and some of the many, many yard sales waiting to be explored. First State Bank of Colorado hosted a customer appreciation lunch on Friday, and Bank of Colorado served lunch at the NFAA open house on Saturday.
At the event site, a sheep camp wagon was displayed, vendors were selling food and beverages, San Juan Weavers Guild provided spinning demonstrations, and Dan Toothaker drew a crowd with his sheep shearing demonstrations. Les Mergelman announced the event for the 15th year. He shared a lot of information about the working stock dogs, information that was enhanced by a demonstration where the judge explained how points are assigned to each team.
Jess Deegan, who tracked the scores for the event, said he takes every opportunity to watch the "happy" dogs do what is in their genes -- herd animals. "It's truly amazing!" he said.
"As a person who appreciates the unique environment in which we live, this event could be described as a picnic with quiet entertainment illustrating how well your dog could behave! It's a great family outing!"
Although the weather was a bit windy, especially on Saturday, the sun shone brightly and the trials were well attended.
Gordon and Cheryl Hebenstreit, who head the dog trial committee, expressed their appreciation to all who attended this year's competition and the volunteers who helped make the event a great success.
They added that Richard Bailey, founder of the trials, had an unfortunate accident while moving the sheep wagon to the grounds. He was unable to run his dogs because of a broken ankle but was there in full support of everyone. It was the first time in 15 years that he was able to actually watch the trial, they noted.