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Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pie at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials

If you think sheepdog trials involve dogs chasing sheep around, you’d be a little right, but not entirely right. Sheepdog trials are much more involved than I ever realized and our weekend trip to Meeker, in Northwest Colorado, was an eye opening experience. I liked it so much that I’m hoping to sponsor a dog/handler team in 2018.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (7)

When I set out on this trip, I didn’t really intend to write specifically about the sheepdog trials, after all, I was there to judge and help promote the Jammin’ Lamb Festival, a lamb cook off in downtown. However, after watching the competition, I really wanted to write about it.

So what are sheepdog trials? In a nutshell, it’s a competitive sport in which herding dogs, under the command of their handler, move sheep around a large field, through fences and gates and into enclosures. The sport is mimicking the work that many of these dogs do at home on the ranch, although some of these dogs spend most of their time competing.

For a complete history of dog trails, go here.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (1)

The trials in Meeker have been occurring for 31 years, and this is a serious business with $22,500 in prize money at stake this year. The organizers hosted 130 dog/handler teams in Meeker this year and, as always, the public is welcomed to attend.

This five-day event features three days of preliminaries with a semifinal on Saturday and a final on Sunday. In addition to the trials, which start at 7 am and go all day with a break for lunch, there are lots of other things on the agenda too.

We arrived on Saturday to a sea of tents and were greeted by the smell of fair food, one of my favorite scents. For lunch, we ended up wolfing down delicious meat pies from an Aspen pastry vendor, but we could have picked from a variety of delicious foodstuff including barbequed ribs or Navajo tacos.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (3)

Meat pies. Enough said.

We made our way to a bleacher seat where we sat, alongside a couple of handlers and their dogs, and watched several teams run the course. As an aside, I loved watching the handlers interact with their dogs off the field of competition. There’s a lot of love in these partnerships.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (8)

Who says you can’t be a working dog AND a lap dog?

The more we watched over the course of the day, the more we grasped the nuances of the sport. Each dog and handler seem to have a little different style; for instance, some handlers talk to their dogs a lot, while others only communicate via the whistle, and even the dogs have differing styles. During a Lie Down command some dogs actually lie down in the grass, becoming just a pair of ears above the green, but other dogs simply stop in their tracks and resemble a border collie statue with a pink, lollygagging tongue.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (6)

Sometimes you get an uncooperative sheep. We saw more than one of these bullheaded ewes on Saturday.

It’s no secret that I’m a dog person. I grew up with German Shepherds and currently own a 14 ½-year-old spoiled female GSD. I am a huge fan of working breeds because I love their intelligence. I’ve always admired border collies and would love to own one when I have enough property to let them run.

I wrote the preceding paragraph to explain that while the sheepdog trials are interesting, I think that dog people may find them more entertaining than non-dog people.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (2)

In addition to the competition, there’s other stuff on the Meeker Sheepdog Trial agenda. As I’ve already mentioned, there’s a good number of food vendors selling a variety of different menu items. There’s also a big tent where local artisans sell their wares; everything from saddles to handmade jewelry and soap.

The education tent features events like the Blanco Cellars & Little Cheese Shop from Meeker serving up free sheep cheese and many demonstrations and presentations themed around the event (think sniffer dogs and vet presentations).

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (4)

This is Buster. Like all the other dog competitors, he loves his soak in a cool bath after his run.

If you love border collies, this is the place to come. Not only was their sheep and border collie art all over the stores in downtown Meeker, but the Sheepdog Trials features an array of vendors selling border collie merchandise including t-shirts, blankets and everything in between.

If you’ve got kids, bring them. There’s a petting zoo, and this year, they had Fly Ball demonstrations that were a hoot. Your little ones may not last all day, but I know I would have been fascinated with the Meeker Sheepdog Trials as a kid, especially as a kid that loved animals.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (5)

I learned that Fly Ball is fast and very loud.

Once you start watching the trials, I mean, really watching, it’s addictive. You start rooting for the handlers and their dogs and sometimes it gets downright tense. We hadn’t planned to return on Sunday because we needed to get home to our old dog, but we did end up returning to the event grounds to catch one of the runs on the final day of competition. This is when the top 12 compete and the dogs have to herd 20 sheep instead of five. The final day’s course is also a bit different from the first four days.

Dogs, Sheep & Meat Pies at the Meeker Sheepdog Trials (9)

That’s a lot of sheep! Sunday’s finals.

We enjoyed the competition, the beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, the echoes of the bagpipe, the smell of fair food and fresh grass and the speed of Meeker. Time moves just a little slower here and people are just a little friendlier. The Meeker Sheepdog Trials are a great excuse to visit this little throwback town where the sheep and kids still roam free.

The Meeker Sheepdog Trials are held annually in September in Meeker, Colorado, about 3 ½ hours west of Denver. If you want to go, plan ahead because lodging in the town fills up well in advance of the event. Go to MeekerSheepdog.com to start planning your visit.

Featured Festival: Loveland Oktoberfest 2017

Call me an Oktoberfest snob, but I believe it takes more than beer and pretzels to make a great Oktoberfest. This year, Loveland Oktoberfest, held at Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, has many of the right ingredients to be called the best Oktoberfest in Northern Colorado.

Featured Festival Loveland Oktoberfest 2017 Neue Polka Colorado 1

Neue Polka Colorado

Of course, it’s about the bier

First of all, Oktoberfest is about good beer and Loveland’s festival will feature six of the city’s award winning breweries, and for fun, they’ve invited Wibby from down the road in Longmont. In addition to Grimm and Wibby, breweries in attendance are Verboten, Loveland Aleworks, Crow Hop, Big Beaver, Buckhorn Brewers and Big Thompson.

Loveland Oktoberfest

That’s me! At Loveland Oktoberfest 2015.

New this year is the Baron Berliner Bar, which will feature Grimm’s traditional Berlinerweisse called The Baron, with multiple flavored syrups available for festival goers to create their own Berliner experience.

It’s about the music 

Second of all, Oktoberfest is about German music. I am super excited that this year, not only will Loveland Oktoberfest feature two authentic polka bands, Neue Polka Colorado and Polka Folka, but also DJ KAAOS.

Featured Festival Loveland Oktoberfest 2017 Neue Polka Colorado

Neue Polka Colorado

Just like at Oktoberfest at Munich, DJ KAAOS will spin all sorts of German music including Die Fantastischen Vier, Rammstein, Jurgen Birlinger and much more. This is one of the most unique things happening at Loveland Oktoberfest and I can’t wait.

It’s about the food

This year’s Loveland Oktoberfest will feature pretzels from Styria Bakery (these are the real deal, folks), pastries from Sweet European Treats (Mayor approved) and the Colorado Candy Company is making something special just for the fest. In addition, authentic German cuisine will be catered for the event. No one will go hungry at Loveland Oktoberfest.

Featured Festival Loveland Oktoberfest 2017 ribbon candy from Colorado Candy Company

Ribbon candy made especially for Loveland Oktoberfest 2017.

It’s about the games & ambiance

Come in your best German garb and participate in the Best Dressed Costume contest on Saturday at 2 p.m. Other contests will be held during the fest including a Stein Hoisting event and a Hammerschlagen tournament to benefit Kiwanis (the champion wins free beer for a year).

Featured Festival Loveland Oktoberfest hammerschlagan pic

Hammerschlagan is fun, just ask John Metcalf!

Several local university German Clubs will be on hand to help you practice a little Deutsch, the official language of Germany and Austria, and one of the three official languages of Switzerland.

Barbarian Dinner Banner Ad

Party like a barbarian on Thursday

The kick off to Loveland Oktoberfest is the Barbarian Dinner on Thursday, September 14. This is like no other beer dinner you’ve ever attended (I guarantee). While Loveland Oktoberfest is free to attend, Barbarian Dinner is a ticketed event. Learn more & purchase tickets here.

Loveland Oktoberfest 2017

Loveland Oktoberfest is 100% family-friendly. There will be activities for the bigs and littles, so grab grandma and the kiddos and make your way to Loveland, Colorado this September.

Loveland Oktoberfest

FREE ADMISSION

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse (click for map)

Friday, September 15 | 4 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 16 | 12 to 9 p.m.

LovelandOktoberfest.org

Join this event on Facebook

Follow Grimm on Twitter

***

Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!

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Take Road G to Wine Paradise in Mesa Verde Country

There’s a road in Southwest Colorado where the rocks take the shape of sculptures, where canyons are speckled by twisted green trees and low-lying mesas are camouflaged by vineyards. In addition to being home to thousands of ancient archeology sites, this is grape growing country.

Take Road G to Wine Paradise, Guy Drew Vineyards 0

Guy Drew Vineyards

Located in the western part of Mesa Verde Country, close to the border of Utah, Road G runs from Cortez to Hovenweep, and there are lots of reasons to drive down this winding county road.

Of course, Hovenweep National Monument should be on your agenda when you visit Mesa Verde Country, but taking it slow on your way there is my recommendation and here’s why. Continue reading

Shooting All the Flowers at Denver Botanic Gardens

I admit that I have a small addiction to shooting flowers, as well as birds, landscapes, and animals at the zoo, but flowers are my favorite thing to shoot.

Sculptures by Alexander Calder are on display at the Denver Botanic Gardens through September 24, 2017.

Sculptures by Alexander Calder are on display at the Denver Botanic Gardens through September 24, 2017.

There’s no better place to shoot flowers than at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The person who accompanies me to the gardens, usually Ryan, ends up doing a lot of standing around, however, I’d argue that there are a lot worse placed in which to stand around than at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Last week, as you probably know if you read my last blog post, my mom was in town from Oregon. She is likely the reason that I love flowers so much, but she prefers planting and painting them as opposed to shooting them. Continue reading

A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming: History, Hauntings & Hilarity

It’s been interesting to watch my first article about Cheyenne, “So You Think You Know Cheyenne, Wyoming?” circulate the interwebs. Some of the comments are a reminder of how many of us tend to become jaded about our own hometowns. Whether you agree with me or not about Cheyenne, I think the city is swell and has a lot to offer visitors.

A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Riding the trolley. HeidiTown.com

Trolley Selfie | I love riding trolleys!

One of Cheyenne’s major assets is its colorful past. When you get to town, just look up at the amazing architecture in downtown. The buildings here are a reminder of the city’s rich history; and it’s a history that should be celebrated.

A Jolly Trolley Ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming. architecture shot HeidiTown.com

When you visit Cheyenne don’t forget to look up. The buildings here are fantastic.

Nowhere is this history more celebrated than on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley Tours. Ryan and I hopped this 90-minute trolley tour during our visit. Lucky for us, our conductor, Brenda Badgley, grew up in Cheyenne, and so in addition to all the historical facts, she gave us personal tidbits about growing up in the town in the 60s. Continue reading

Jet Boat Colorado: The Most Fun You Can Have with Wet Clothes On

When Ryan and I were invited to experience Jet Boat Colorado during our visit to the Grand Junction area, I was simultaneously delighted and terrified. I love boats and I love the water, but ever since I had a scary river incident many years ago, I’m not particularly fond of getting out on a river of any kind, let alone the mighty Colorado River.

Jet Boat Colorado The Most Fun You Can Have with Wet Clothes On 4. HeidiTown.com

Despite my fear, I realized that some of the scariest things in life have been the most fun — snowmobiling and zip lining, for instance. So I would do it, even if it meant swallowing my fear and spending the entire outing with my eyes squeezed shut.

There was another motivator for doing this activity — Jet Boat Colorado is the only jet boat operation in the state and they just opened this summer. This means I’d be one of the first people to get to experience jet boating in Colorado and who doesn’t love being one of the first ones to do an activity such as this? Continue reading

Featured Festival: BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado

BrüFrouFEST was my husband’s favorite event of 2016, and that’s really saying something because we go to a lot of events. I loved it too. What’s not to love about food and drink pairings? And this is not your average “taste of” kind of event.

BrüFrouFEST inspires chefs and brewers to take food and drink pairings to the next level — and they do.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - steak & dark beer

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

Last year, we wandered through the event, increasingly impressed by what we were putting in our mouths. Verboten Brewing’s Cucumber Gose paired with Harman’s Eat & Drink’s salmon pastrami with dill cream cheese mousse, avocado, brewers rye crisp, pickled mustard seed and cilantro was my favorite on the day.

Bru Frou 2016. HeidiTown (2)

However, there were other standouts too including the Bristol Brewing Company Roggenbier paired with saffron banana steamed mussels with Aurelia chorizo and crumbled rye (food by Brother Luck). Obviously, I love seafood, but there were lots of other pairings as well, including last course options.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - Mussels & chorizo

The Bristol Brewing & Brother Luck pairing in 2016.

Ryan couldn’t get enough of the Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout pair with spicy chocolate cake from The Rosedale Tavern.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - Chocolate Cake

Spicy Chocolate Cake. Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

BrüFrouFEST is for foodies and foodie wannabes, and the brewers and chefs that are involved take this event very seriously.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is thrilled to be pairing their beer with cuisine by Euclid Hall at this year’s event and I can’t wait to taste the result of this stellar combination. Verboten also got a great pairing this year – Blackbelly Market out of Boulder. Only good things can come from that collaboration.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - action shot

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

While the food will continue to be spectacular, some things at this year’s BrüFrouFEST will be a little different. For instance, they are holding it outdoors at Tivoli Station in downtown Denver. They’ve also moved it from Saturday to Sunday to make it easier for chefs to be away from their restaurants on the day of the event. And it takes place from 12 to 5, as opposed to in the evening. Lastly, they’ve added craft beer cocktails from some of the region’s finest mixologists. 

Chefs are coming from as far as Vail to participate and compete and overall, there are 125 chefs and breweries and 80 unique pairings. In addition, six bands will be in attendance to keep things lively when the meat sleeps start to kick in.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - crowd shot

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

This is the largest culinary event of its kind in the country, so you really, really, really don’t want to miss it. Seriously, my husband talked about this one for months; obviously, it makes an impression. This year, tickets start at just $35, so you’ve got no excuse not to be there.

BrüFrouFEST 2017

BruFrou.com

SUNDAY, July 16, 2017

12 to 5 p.m. at Tivoli Station

Denver, Colorado

Get BrüFrouFEST tickets NOW

***

Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!

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So You Think You Know Cheyenne, Wyoming? Think Again

What comes to mind when you think of Cheyenne, Wyoming? Cowboy hats and big trucks? Trains? Those are all accurate descriptions of Cheyenne. It’s a historic train town with a lot of cowboys, cowgirls and big trucks. Today, however, Cheyenne is so much more.

So you think you know cheyenne, think again. Wrangler building. HeidiTown

We spent a weekend in Cheyenne earlier this month. We were there to attend the Celtic Festival and Rock the Block, as well as explore a town that we’d only ever passed through.

I’m going to write several posts about this trip, including some of the fun touristy things you can do here like the trolley tour, botanic garden and museums, but in this post, I want to concentrate on some of the surprising things we discovered in Cheyenne.

First of all, did you know that there are three breweries in Cheyenne, Wyoming? True story.

So you think you know cheyenne think again. taps at accomplice beer co. HeidiTown.com

We visited two of the three, stopping first at Accomplice Beer Company where guests pour their own beer. Yes, you read that right. Accomplice has self-pour taps, and they have a lot of them. After a brief explanation of how it works from the bartender, we were off. They use an electronic card system to track how much you pour, so you can’t drink here all day long.

So you think you know cheyenne Accomplice Beer Co. HeidiTown.com

We also got lunch at this brewpub, sliders for Ryan and chicken tenders for me. The tenders were some of the best I’ve had, although the ranch dressing could be a bit thicker. While it’s a bit gimmicky, Accomplice is centrally located in the famous depot building and a must-visit when in Cheyenne.

Freedom’s Edge Brewing Co. is just a couple blocks from Cheyenne’s downtown plaza. They have a traditional taproom with a nice contemporary feel and really good beer. We’ll definitely be back to Freedom’s Edge on our next visit to Cheyenne.

So you think you know Cheyenne think again. Freedom's Edge Brewing. HeidiTown.com

We didn’t make it to Danielmark’s Brewing Co. on E. 18th Street, but this is Cheyenne’s newest brewery and is located in a renovated historic home. They have an outdoor patio and feature food trucks.

And speaking of food trucks, there’s a delightful pizza place in Cheyenne that got its start as a food truck. Bella Fuoco Wood Fire Pizza gets top marks from both Ryan and I, and we recommend the jalapeno popper and the NY Blue. Just thinking about these pizzas makes my mouth water.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. Bella Fuoco Wood Fire Pizza. HeidiTown.com

Everyone knows about the Wrangler (Boot Barn) in Cheyenne, and I did purchase a hat there while I was in town, but we found a real gem of a shop next to Freedom’s Edge Brewery.

So you think you know cheyenne think again. Mid Mod Etc. sign. HeidiTown.com

Mid Mod Etc. is a terrific store that’s worth the drive if you love mid modern clothing, furniture, decor and even cars. You can track their inventory by following their Facebook page. And here’s the best part, their prices beat anything you’ll find at the mid-modern stores in Denver.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. Ryan sporting his Mid Mod, Etc. shirt in Cortez, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Ryan sporting the vintage shirt he bought at Mid Mod, Etc. on our recent trip to Cortez, Colorado.

Ryan was excited to discover two stores selling vinyl in Cheyenne. There’s Ernie November and Phoenix Books & Music.

In addition, Ryan was overjoyed to discover that Cheyenne has an arcade bar. Located in downtown, Flippers Family Arcade is good for families, but also fun for adults because not only do they have a large selection of arcade games and pinball, they have a bar serving beer and wine. It’s a great place to kill an hour or two.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think again. Flippers Arcade & Bar. HeidiTown.com

As some of you know, I’m a coffee snob, so I was delighted to discover Paramount Cafe in Cheyenne. This trendy coffee shop under The Second Floor, a coworking space, serves up a quality cup of Joe.

So you think you know Cheyenne Think Again. street scene. HeidiTown.com

So there you have it — did you know Cheyenne was so hip and happening? I didn’t. Keep an eye on HeidiTown.com for more posts about where we stayed and what we did in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Thank you to Visit Cheyenne for hosting us on this trip.

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Dining in Colorado – New Favorites & Longtime Favorites

I wish I were a picky eater, because if I were pickier I’d probably be a bit slimmer, but I like food a lot. Thankfully, Colorado’s food scene is fantastic right now. No matter where we go, we find good, often farm fresh, food to eat. It’s a fabulous time to be a foodie in Colorado.

Dining in Colorado, Meat & Cheese in Aspen. HeidiTown.com

Photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese.

In my work as a freelance writer and Mayor of HeidiTown, I get the opportunity to dine out a lot. Here are a few standout restaurants from the last six months; some are brand new to me and others are old favorites we hadn’t visited in awhile. Continue reading

Six Reasons to Visit Steamboat Springs this Summer

Most of you don’t need a reason to visit Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but I’m going to give you six great reasons to visit anyway because you never know what new things you may discover. I thought I knew this town well, but last summer .

  1. Yampa River Botanic Park

We’d been visiting Steamboat Springs for more than a decade before stumbling across this fantastic park last summer during a bike ride.

Six Reasons to Visit Steamboat Springs, Yampa River Botanic Park, HeidiTown.com

Yampa River Botanic Park

Located alongside the Yampa River Core, #5 on this list, this park is a true hidden gem. I did not inherit my mother’s gardening gene, so the fact that the gardeners can make stuff grow at 6,880 feet above sea level, is sort of like magic to me.

The gardens here are absolutely stunning and feature meandering stone paths, ponds and waterfalls and colorful perennials.

The peaceful space is used for yoga classes, weddings, theater and is also home to Music on the Green each summer. The park is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk May 1 through October 31.

  1. Taco Cabo

Located on the west side of downtown, Taco Cabo has become a must-stop for us when we visit Steamboat Springs. Continue reading

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