Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival

A fun filled festival running November 9 & 10 featuring the United States Border Collie Handlers’ Association, Carolina Dock Dogs, and more! 

What better way to wrap up the fall season than with your canine pal and several hundred of their new best friends? Bring your family, friends, and dog (or dogs) to the Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival November 7th and 8th for one of the area’s best known dog events, now in its twenty-fourth year! No other dog festival in the area can offer more fun or variety! 

Don’t miss a thing! National Border Collie Shepherding Championships, Carolina Dock Dogs, Canine Agility Club Competitions and more will be held over the two day event! Also on hand: NC Beer and Wine, Heritage Breed Livestock, Hay Rides, Historic Craft and Cooking Demonstrations, Food Vendors, Shopping, Nature Trails, Living History, Pumpkin Chunkin’, and much much more!

And Dog Sports demonstrations featuring the Greater Charlotte Shetland Sheepdog Club and others! Also on hand will be North Carolina beer and wine, heritage breed livestock, hay rides, historic craft and cooking demos, food vendors, shopping, open trails, antique tractors, living history demonstrations in the 1760’s cabin, pumpkin chunkin’, corn launchin’, kid’s activities, and much more!

Tickets are available online as well as on site both days. This event will not sell out.


1- What are Sheepdog Trials?
Excellent question: Sheepdog Trials involve three things, a handler, a dog (in our case champion border collies) and a group of sheep. The ultimate goal of a trial is for the handler to use his dog to herd the sheep through a series of gates and into a pen, using only voice and whistle commands to communicate. Points are awarded based on how well the dog and their handler complete several separate phases of competition. The team with the most points wins! For more information, visit the United States Border Collie Handlers’ Association website at

2- What else will there be to do on site?
In addition to the world class competition being held on the herding field, both Saturday and Sunday will be packed full with Carolina Dock Dogs, Dog Sports Demonstrations, Kid’s Activities, Historic Demonstrations, Tractor Exhibits, Pumpkin Chunkin’, Hay Rides, Food and Drink, Merchandise Vendors, and much more!

3- Can I bring my dog? Can they participate?
Yes, you may bring your four legged friend, but unfortunately both the Sheepdog and Dog Sports Competitions are closed to new entrants. If you have a border collie and are interested in training them to herd, there will be many experts on hand to give you advice.

4- How much is admission, what are the hours, and when can I buy tickets?
Admission is free for children 0-4, youth 5-12 are $8.00, and adults 13+ are $11. The gates will open at 10:00 and close at 4:00 on both days. Tickets may be purchased online here or on the day of the event.

5- I’m coming from out of town, where’s a good place to stay?
Stay at Hampton Inn Cornelius, the official dog-friendly hotel of the Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials! Book your rooms at a special reduced rate by clicking HERE!

6- I’m hungry- what’s good to eat?
Whether it’s a snack you’re looking for or a complete meal, our food vendors will be glad to serve you right! Grilled hotdogs, sausages, and burgers are always a hit; funnel cakes, kettle corn, fries, and more are perfect to snack on. Don’t forget to stop by our bake sale in the tent, where our friends and volunteers have worked hard to bring you a little taste of home cooking! Would you like to enjoy North Carolina beer and wine from our friends at NoDa Brewing and Shelton Vineyards? Be sure to bring your ID, you will have to have it to get a 21 and over wrist band.

7- What about shopping?
We have several returning merchandise vendors and many new comers ready to help you pick out that perfect gift for the dog or dog lover in your life.

8- Pumpkin Chunkin?’ What’s that?
Bring your old Fall pumpkins and let us chunk em’ into the field for you using our large, powerful, and explosively fun catapult! This hallmark feature of the Sheepdog Trials will launch your orange friend as much as 40 feet into the air: Newton’s law of gravity still applies however, and it will soon land with a splat in our field. Later in the week we’ll give our Highland cattle an early Thanksgiving feast with the leftovers.

9- Sounds great, but who benefits from me coming?
All proceeds go to benefit Historic Rural Hill Inc., the non-profit organization that manages the Rural Hill property. Rural Hill is a historic site, county owned piece of public land, working farm, events site, and education center offering educational and fun outings to students, families, and community groups throughout the year. To find out more about us, poke around this website, we’ve got a lot to share!