Annual sheep festival Labor Day WeekendWritten by Jennifer Womack
Stock dogs and the sheep they attempt to maneuver through an open course, take center stage at the event, but since the festival was launched in 2004 Kaycee residents have worked to expand the action. A cook-off, a ram sale, sheep industry exhibits, a lamb BBQ, a street dance and a rodeo will all take place in Kaycee this Labor Day weekend.
On Saturday evening at 6 p.m. the community will host the “Not Your Mama’s Wool Fashion and Craft Show.” According to Mary Cunningham, the event will be held in conjunction with the annual lamb cook-off at Jarrard Park.
Kaycee High School junior Sara Goni is two-time champion of the event, but says she won’t be in town to compete at the 2009 cook-off. Both championships have been earned with a slow-roasted leg of lamb basted in tomato sauce and seasonings. While she only cooks on occasion at home, the cook-off is something Goni looks forward to and enjoys.
On its second year at the event is a ram sale including various breeds of sheep. The sale was held via silent auction in 2008, but at the 2009 event there will be a live auction including around 60 head of rams that have been consigned. The sale will be held prior to the final round of the dog trials on Monday morning, Labor Day.
According to event organizer Lisa Cunningham, the sale was launched to fill the gap created when the long-time Buffalo ram sale ended. “Suffolk, Rambouillet, Dorset, Hampshire, Columbia and CVM,” she says, “will be displayed throughout the Labor Day Weekend in our ‘Sheep Breed Display’ section of the Sheep Industry Festival. Monday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. at the Sheep Industry Festival site, on the south end of Kaycee, rams will be run through a live auction.” L. Cunningham says it provides producers an opportunity to promote their product and educate the public.
M. Cunningham says that on Sunday evening there will be a free lamb BBQ at the rodeo grounds where John Forbes will hold a night rodeo. “There will be a minimal fee for entry to the rodeo,” she says, “but the BBQ is free.”
“We now have 54 dogs entered,” says M. Cunningham. “Each dog runs once on Saturday and once on Sunday. The top 10 qualify for the finals. We will have spinners, weavers, authors, industry representatives and local artisans and other booths at the festival. The wool mill from Buffalo will also be there.”
Bevis Jordan, a farm manger from Northumberland, England, will officiate over the 2009 Kaycee Challenge Sheep Dog Trial. Jordan is an experienced dog handler who raises Border collies and has exported several of the dogs to the United States. At home on the 3,500-acre farm he manages, Jordan keeps four to five dogs in various stages of training.