sheepdog trials

Photo by Al Medvitz

Photo by Al Medvitz


March 31, April 1 &2, 9am–5pm
McCormack Ranch Sheepdog Trials
McCormack Ranch, 7680 Montezuma Hills Rd, west of Rio Vista

“That dog could use a little ‘baa-ram-ewe’,” one dog-trials veteran whispered to me as a reminder of the secret password the sheep divulged to Babe, the sheepherding pig in the movie Babe. I was at the event to do reporting for the article in this issue, and as a newbie to sheepdog trials, it had seemed best to signal my ignorance by admitting that everything I knew on the subject came from having watched Babe half a dozen times. To my utter amazement, everyone who heard that admission replied in exactly the same way: “Well then, you have a very good understanding of how it works.”

The one difference at McCormack Ranch is that no pigs will be competing: This classic show of ranching skills features more than 80 super-smart border collies moving sheep from field to pen.

Cost: $15 (kids 12 and younger are free). Lamb barbecue lunch on Saturday ($8 ) cooked by Chef Marsha McBride of the recently closed Café Rouge. For info and tickets, call Hope Cohn at 925.550.0566 or visit  More info: here

Other things to do near Rio Vista

Head over and up the river to the town of Locke, a historic treasure, formerly a bustling town and Chinese enclave, which now is home to a small group of artists who work and run galleries there.

Go for a soak at the Miyazaki Osento, a Japanese bathhouse and lodging in Walnut Grove, the town right next to Locke.
From Walnut Grove, you might head east to explore Lodi Wine Country.

—Cheryl Angelina Koehler

Learn more about McCormack Ranch.