Sheepdog Trials will skip 2023 but plans a return in 2024

The last public edition of the Sheepdog trials took place in 2019.

The organizers of the Vashon Sheepdog Classic (VSDC) announced last week that the event will once again not take place in Vashon in 2023.

Maggi McClure, who founded the Sheepdog trials in 2010 as a nationals-qualifying event for the U.S. Border Collies Association, said earlier this month that she hoped to bring the event back, in 2024, to its longtime location — a sentiment echoed in a general press release sent last week about the event.

“Vashon Sheepdog Classic looks forward to 2024 for our next community event, continuing the tradition of giving back to our island and hosting one of the most esteemed national sheepdog competitions in North America,” the release said.

The Sheepdog Classic, which drew thousands annually and raised funds for local nonprofits, long took place in a rolling pasture on SW 220th Street and Old Mill Road.

The pasture, until earlier this month, was part of the sprawling Misty Isle Farms estate, amassed by the late Tom Stewart.

Now, King County owns the pasture, as part of a purchase of 110 acres of the Misty Isle estate from the Stewart-affiliated company that owned it. The sale was recorded on Oct. 3, according to property records.

“We are delighted to hear of the recent sale of parcels within the Misty Isle properties and are excited to potentially partner with the King County Water & Land Resources Division,” said McClure, adding that she was also eager to partner with multiple owners of other recently-purchased parcels on Westside Highway that had been a part of the Misty Isle estate.

These owners, she said, had reached out to offer their support for the Sheepdog Trials.

McClure said her organization planned to use 2023 to “reflect on our mission of giving back to our island community while at the same time looking forward to what the future has in store for this uniquely Vashon event.”

A press release said that McClure had recently attended the 35th-anniversary celebration of Vashon Partners in Education (PIE) — a nonprofit the Sheepdog Classic had partnered with and funded for 12 years, netting the group $120,000 in funding.

The release urged members of the public to continue to donate to PIE in 2022, along with other causes the Sheepdog Classic had supported in the past, including the Vashon-Maury Food Bank, Vashon Youth & Family Services, and VARSA.

The last public edition of the Sheepdog trials took place in 2019, with the 2020 edition canceled due to the pandemic, and the 2021 edition held as an event for dog handlers only.

A planned full return, in 2022, did not take place because Stewart’s company declined to allow the event to occur, telling the organizers their reason was due to “ongoing real estate opportunities.”