One of the early Border Collie trials in the mid-west was a trial held annually on Labor Day weekend in Sandwich Illinois in conjunction with the town fair. People traveled from some distance to participate in this trial and included notable handlers such as Ralph Pulfer of Ohio, George Conboy from Indiana, Bill Berhow of Montana and Chuck O’Reilly from Minnesota. This trial was run in cooperation with the USBCHA and the organizer/trial director was Dave Birch. At the end of the 1992 Sandwich trial, a group of handlers got together and organized Land of Lincoln Border Collie Association.
The original Board of Directors consisted of John “Jack” Pickrell – President, Orville Maxwell – Vice President, Merrily Steffen – Secretary and Wally Yoder – Treasurer. Other members of the Board were Larry Gaertner and Harry Enloe. Although Jack never ran a dog in these trials, he was instrumental in working with the attorney in the writing of the By Laws and the official forming of LOLBCA. To this day, The Pickrell family continues to provide a chair to the high-point nursery dog in the spring trial.
In these early years, LOLBCA also sponsored a number of Fun Days and Clinics. Since the fall trial was gaining in popularity, LOLBCA decided to add another trial and held the first one in the spring of 1993 at the home of Don Johnson at Centralia, IL. The next year, the spring trial moved to the Jubilee Historic Site in Kickapoo, IL. The Jubilee Site proved to be a good place and many times festivals were held in conjunction with our trials and continued at this site through 2008 when the state of Illinois closed state parks for a period of time causing us to seek out another venue. LOLBCA continued to host an annual fall trial in cooperation with the Sandwich Fair until 1998.
Upon the invitation from Gary Dembski, the fall trial was then moved to his farm at Crystal Lake, Illinois. This location drew a lot of spectators and was a beautiful setting for our historical event and we kept this site until 2007. In the fall of 2008, we moved to Jubilee Historic Site in 2008 for one year and then due to the Illinois park close-down, we moved to Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL. The Three Sister’s Park is a nice, central location with beautiful grounds and nice campsites and facilities. The founding mission of the park being to educate the community on historic aspects of farming and land use, resonates with our club mission of educating the public on the uses of good working sheep dogs.
At the time of this writing in 2011 the LOLBCA has sponsored 36 Border Collie Sheep Dog Trials since forming. These have been popular trials with handlers traveling from many states to run dogs on these beautiful fields. Plans continue for our sheep dog trials to be held at the Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, IL as well as fun days and education opportunities on the working sheep dog activities.
We look forward to seeing you at a future Land of Lincoln Border Collie Association event! Thank you to founding member, Wally Yoder for the historical information.