30th annual Kingston Sheepdog Trials festival brings hundreds to Grass Creek Park
The annual Kingston Sheepdog Trials festival celebrated its 30th anniversary at Grass Creek Park this weekend.
The canine competition attracts over 7,000 spectators each year as visitors from around the globe come to Kingston for the unique event, considered the largest of its kind in North America.
“I think it’s just a really different experience, said Stephanie Grimes, special event coordinator with the City of Kingston. “The Sheepdog Trials are something many people have never seen before.”
Around 165 border collies are competing in this year’s event, in which the dogs and their handlers have nine minutes to perform all the tasks required by a sheepdog, such as gathering, driving, penning, and shedding.
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“People love to see the drama. The drama of the work between the sheep because they’re the unknown — they could be doing anything. The trust between the handler and the dog, and the whole convergence of that into a good job,” said Trials chair Amanda Milliken.
Aside from the competition aspect, the event also includes Ultimutts, a stunt-dog show that features several rescue pets from all over North America.
Ultimutts founder Melissa Millett, from London, Ont., had been training dogs for the past two decades before starting the show six years ago.
“Sometimes people think that rescue dogs are damaged and that there’s nothing you can do, [that] they have behavioural issues… That’s simply not true,” Millett explains. “You can find incredible dogs that have been rescued for multiple reasons.”
Other demos include the crowd favourite display from the Kingston Police’s K-9 Unit.
“We try to give the public a little taste of some of the capabilities of the dogs and what we would use them for in their real work,” said Const. Mark McCreary.
The festival continues until 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 13.