Follow The Republic:
Border collies of all ages anxiously waited for their turn to demonstrate their herding talents during Saturday morning's sheepdog trails at the 21st annual Columbus Scottish Festival.
Obeying the whistles and vocal commands of their handlers, the border collies each ushered three sheep across the field to one of two pens where the sheep were corralled.
Depending on the signal, the dog would lie close to the ground watching the sheep, wagging tail its only movement. From a few yards away, the sheep seemed to likewise watch the collie cautiously with a sideways stare. Then with a single whistle from its handler, the collie would take off in a sprint making a wide pass by the sheep. As the animals bolted at the canine's sudden movement, the collie continued to make passes guiding them across the field to the pen waiting on the other side.
Handler Stuart Ballantyne, of Malabar, Fla., was brought up with border collies while living in Scotland as a child. Since immigrating to the United States a decade ago, he hasn't lost his admiration and love for the breed. Watching as each dog ran back and forth herding the sheep, he couldn't help but smile.
"When this goes right, it's poetry in motion," Ballantyne said.
Paige Joyner, of Lexington, Ky., was first introduced to border collies nearly 20 years ago. She bought her first collie with the intent of not participating in events like the sheepdog trials, but soon found it's in the breed's blood to run. Now, her current collie, 5-year-old Max, participates every year. Six years ago, she became one of the organizers for the current sheepdog trial event when it risked being discontinued. The most challenging thing about the event, Joyner says, is being away from one's home field.
"It's a great thing when the dogs, sheep, and weather cooperate," Joyner said. "The best part is we get to meet people from all over."
Despite Friday night's storms, the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds were bustling before the gates opened at 8 a.m. Groundskeepers swept water from the walkways and organizers communicated via walkie-talkies as they took care of last-minute details. Down the main thoroughfare, merchants set up shop with the wet grass squishing under their feet. The morning's cool breeze and dark blue sky off to the west added to the festival's ambiance.
"When it rains, we seem to have more people," Diana Wolfe, Scottish festival ceremonies coordinator, said. "They say, 'Oh, it's just like Scotland!'"
And, indeed, it was.
Historical re-enactors dressed in period clothing continued setting up their camps and mingled with festival-goers. Shortly after the Midwest Highland Games began, the sound of bagpipes filled the air. The Southern Indiana Pipes and Drums band marched along the main walkway and stopped just before a row of tents set up for participating clans and societies. A crowd gathered as they played "Scotland the Brave." Children took notice of the kids area, home to the bouncy castle and balloons, and down the way in the entertainment building, Colin Grant-Adams began his performance.
First-time festival visitor Jodi Taylor, of Elizabethtown, Ky., says she found the festival online and brought her family north to check it out.
"Our family has a lot of Scottish blood," Taylor said. "So we're anxious to see what our fellow Scots are doing."
Whether you fancy European cars, Celtic music, or just want to show off your kilt, the festivities continue until 4 p.m. today.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $2 for children 6-12; free for children under 6. Some events, including Scottish whiskey tastings, cost extra.
"If you think you've missed something on the first day," Wolfe said. "Come back on the second day and there'll be something different."
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.