Thursday, August 17, 2017

Showtime -- What, When and Where

As I've mentioned, we're putting on a dog show. RK and I have never done this before. It's proving to be more difficult than I think it should be. As a blogger, I naturally looked to the internet for guidance. I can't find anything offering useful information for a clueless newbie. So, we're doing this blind -- eek! And in true blogger fashion, I'm sharing my journey (much like the A to Z of Dog Shows series several years ago). I hope that someone else will find my efforts helpful -- maybe even encouraging. Let me know!

I've been combing through extremely dry booklets and manuals for weeks, trying to make sense of it all. My brain hurts! I've labeled this Step 1, even though these things were set up by a previous show committee. [Note: We're holding a conformation show, though much of this step would apply to performance trials as well.]


First, you must determine what kind of show you're holding. Conformation shows come in different varieties. A Specialty Show is a dog show of only one breed, given by a specialty club. An All-Breed Show is a dog show where all (or almost all) the different purebred breeds are being shown and judged simultaneously. A Limited-Breed Show has more than one breed but less than an all-breed (i.e. a herding club hosts a show for all the herding breeds).

The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida is a specialty club. We're holding two specialty shows back-to-back on one day -- Friday, April 6, 2018. The Greater Orange Park Dog Club is an all-breed club. They are holding back-to-back all-breed shows April 7 and April 8. Currently they are doing the same thing RK and I are, but on a much larger scale.


The AKC has strict rules regarding show dates. However, said rules are not clearly written in one centralized, easy-to-use location. It's enough to give a girl a headache! 

Chapter 2, Section 3 of Rules Applying to Dog Shows states:
Each club or association which she'll hold the show in its territory at least once in every two consecutive calendar years she'll have the sole show privilege in the city, town or district of its assigned territory.
I read that several times and keep thinking WTF? First of all, why did the AKC feel the need to underscore "in its territory?" I can't find anything anywhere defining territorial boundaries. 

That aside, the AKC divides the year up into 52 weekends. Weekend 1 is the first full weekend of January. Clubs are assigned the weekend number. For example, my club has weekend 14. No other German Shepherd group within 200 miles can hold a German shepherd specialty show on that weekend without the express written permission from the German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida.


Once a date is secured, a club must find a place to hold the show. There are many things to take into consideration, including:
  • Cost of rental. This is a biggie! A club can’t spent its entire budget on the venue. As you will see soon enough, there are a lot of expenses when putting on a dog show.
  • Location. Is it in the club’s geographical location (wherever that may be)? Can out of town exhibitors find it easily? Are there dog-friendly hotels nearby?
  • Type. Is it an indoor site? Outdoor site? Combination of the two?
  • Size. Is it large enough to hold all necessary rings, exhibitors and spectators? Enough space for x-pens? Is there room for vendors?
  • Parking. Is there enough parking for the judges, volunteers, exhibitors and spectators? Is there room/hook-ups for motor homes? Where is parking in relation to the rings? 
  • Conditions/Usability. Is there grass? If so, will it be mowed beforehand? Is the area level and free of tripping hazards? Is it clean? Is there adequate light, ventilation, heat, or A/C? Is there access to water?
  • Toilets. Are there flushing toilets on site? If not, is there room to set up porta-potties?
  • Other amenities. For example, indoor space with electrical for grooming, kitchen use for concessions, covered pavilions, available trash cans/dumpsters.
If a club is moving to a new venue, the site must be approved by the AKC beforehand. The 2017 AKC Show Manual states that:
Any site not previously used for an all-breed or group club event must be visited by an AKC Executive Field Representative prior to approval by the Event Operations Department. A site diagram (detailed layout) must be provided at the time the event application is submitted to the AKC’s Event Operations Department with ring size and aisle widths and location of all amenities. If there are possible problems that may occur with the parking, a layout and parking plan should also be submitted. Approval from the Events Operations Department must be attained if any change of date or venue location is required.
This is a lot to take into consideration. Fortunately for us, we've had an agreement with the Greater Orange Park Dog Club for several years. They've jumped through all the hoops to secure a location (the St. Johns County Fairgrounds) for weekend #14. Several specialty clubs have subcontracted to use the grounds the Friday before. It works out for everybody.
  • The Specialty Clubs get a nice location with decent amenities. Honestly, our club wouldn't be able to afford the location on our own.
  • The All-Breed Club can offset some of their expenses and/or get additional volunteers (our agreement requires man-hours in lieu payment). Plus, there are people at the show grounds on Friday as they set up.
  • Exhibitors have the opportunity to show in two specialty shows (Friday) and two all-breed shows (Saturday and Sunday) giving them four chances to win in a three day period. That's awesome! This increases the likelihood of entries for both clubs.
  • The larger number of entries warrants a higher point value for the winner. Since we've had this arrangement, our specialty shows have all been major-pointed shows -- and that makes everybody happy! (See here for an explanation of points.)
And as far as I can tell, that's Step 1 in a nutshell. Tired yet? Wait until you see Step 2! TTFN, -- K

P.S. If you have experience putting on a show -- successfully or not -- PLEASE chime in. Don't tell RK, but I think we're in over our heads here.

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