Vashon Sheepdog Classic: Where Each Dog Has Its Day

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Vashon Sheepdog Classic – June 9 – 12, 2016
vashon sheepdog classic border collie

I love it when a familiar place surprises me, when I discover something that has been right under my nose, in plain sight as they say, doing handstands, waving its arms, flashing its veritable pearly whites at me, in hopes of catching my eye, attention, and curiosity. The Vashon Sheepdog Classic is one such event. Years ago, when I first started seeing plywood cutouts of crouching sheepdogs dotting the island as event signs, I didn’t know what to think. Well, actually, I must admit I had a preconceived idea, that watching dogs chase sheep was the animal channel equivalent of watching paint dry.

Event organizer Maggie McClure sharing the finer points of this amazing sport
Event organizer Maggi McClure explaining how she and the dog work as a team.

I am here to publicly admit that I was so wrong, hugely wrong, make that woefully wrong. After spending my first day at the Vashon Sheepdog Classic helping a friend at his vendor booth, I found myself turning my back on customers to see what the spectators were oohing and ahhing about. And then I became a bad recruit, trading in my interest for caesar salad and onion ring orders for the winsome athleticism of a sheepdog in motion with a job at hand.

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Brandon
Lamb butchery: Brandon Sheard of Farmstead Meatsmith shares his knowledge and knife skills.

For the uninitiated, the sheep dog trials are not about a chase, in fact there is no chase. The sheepdogs, guided through whistles and commands gingerly move, almost choreograph, the sheep to desired places and paddocks on one of the loveliest stretches of rolling pasture on the island. Spectators are treated to bucolic vistas worthy of an opera backdrop. If Downton Abbey had an official sport, this would be it — white linen suits and shady valets optional.

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Recently I was treated to Island chefs Lauren Garaventa and Molly Biehn special lamb and spring vegetable soup in honor of the Vashon Sheepdog Classic. It was the best bowl of soup I’ve ever had, truly. Rumor has it they are opening up shop in Vashon town. I’ll keep you posted — slurp!

Tom’s Top Ten Reasons for Attending the Vashon Sheepdog Classic, June 9 -12, 2016

  1. Amazing dogs
  2. Dreamy Vashon Island setting at Misty Isle Farms
  3. Local food, spirits & craft booths
  4. Most attended herding event on the West Coast
  5. Educational exhibits: “The Story of Wool” &  Lamb Butchery
  6. Fiber Arts Village with demonstrations daily
  7. Bagpiping while sheep are moved up the field
  8. Great day trip from either Seattle or Tacoma
  9. Unique sporting event
  10. Proceeds go to local island charities

Misty Isle Farms Old Mill Road Pastures – Vashon Sheepdog Classic

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Hope you all can make it, and remember it’s early this year, June 9 -12, 2016.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for this reminder! A friend had told me about the wonders of this event but I had forgotten all about it. Maybe I’ll spy you there and say hi!!

    • Hi Karen, that would be wonderful. Let me know what day you’ll be there. I’ll be the one wearing an oyster shell lariat. 😉

  2. Nice post Tom, I love hearing about life on Vashon. Hmm… just for a moment imagine if your island paradise were 2 square miles smaller than it is, and a population of 1.64 million. Things might be a little different! 😄 I’ve just described Manhattan, btw.

    I’m very obsessed with the Pacific Northwest, and I’m glad I found your blog. I plan to move to Seattle this summer and finally get some woods to walk in. I remember on my last visit I spent a lot of time in Lincoln Park just north of the ferry landing, and discovered this zig zaggy ramp down to the beach below, it was as gorgeous as anything I’ve ever seen. The way the tree canopies and vines merged up above forming a sort of tunnel, with the summer sun filtering down through… so awesome, literally.

    We don’t have that in San Diego 😄😄

    Hey sorry for the long comments, I don’t want to fatigue you here. More laughter, things are funny today 😄

    • Forrest, indeed the Pacific Northwest holds my heart firmly in its hand. Lincoln Park is a real gem in the Seattle Park system, Puget Sound waterfront and forest within the city. On the point is a saltwater swimming pool for the few months our temps exceed 70 degrees. Here’s to your future home and the natural beauty befitting a worthy welcome to Pacific Northwest. Cheers!

  3. Hi, Tom,

    Boy! Have you been busy blogging while I’ve been out in the garden. This event sound and looks like great fun, and by the looks of things, the sheep are having as much fun as the sheepdog!

  4. After saying goodbye to our herding sweetheart of 15 years, this is tempting. Oh so tempting…. Wishing you wonderful weather for the event. (These dogs are so happy when they are working. Such joy in action.) Thanks Tom.

    • Sandra, so sorry to read you lost your beloved sheepdog. Sounds like she was a wonderful presence and family member for quite a long time. Here’s to her memory and the joy she brought you.

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