In line with what we feel are part of our responsibilities as Superintendents, MB-F has been providing our clubs and, on occasion the Delegates, as well as AKC, with information we felt was pertinent to having meaningful discussions or debate and then making good decisions. For years we have given to our clubs, at the same time as their show settlements, data showing their entry history, their entry income history and their superintending fee history in dollars and real dollars as adjusted for inflation.
Our organization, as well as the other member organizations of the Dog Show Superintendents Association, for quite some time has been telling anyone who would listen that entries were diminishing with each passing year (hand in hand with AKC registrations), which was going to jeopardize the continuation of some show-giving clubs, the success of AKC, and, of course in turn, superintending organizations.
Due to competition, the creativity of superintendents has permitted them to keep prices in line. The creative thinking on the part of the clubs has allowed them to continue holding shows. Having said that, the sad truth is that all the creative thinking in the world cannot increase entries if there are fewer and fewer dogs being registered each year and there are more and more events. When you add the economic meltdown to that experience you have a situation where exhibitors who really want to be out there most weekends now have to be very choosy in how many times they can exhibit in a month and the result is that it is more economical for some clubs NOT to incur the expense of holding their shows in order to remain viable.
In 2005, in the midst of this downturn, 78% of the all-breed shows were 1500 dogs or less. Of those 49% were 1100 or less. The balance of the clubs were between 1501 and 3500 dogs (22%). In 2009, just four years later, 84% of the all-breed shows were 1500 dogs or less, with 56% having 1100 or less. The remaining clubs, with 1501 to 3500 dogs had dropped to 16%. In 2005, there were 81 clubs who had entries of 701-800 dogs. In 2009, that figure rose to 175. In 2005 there were 126 events that had entries of 600 dogs or less; in 2009 there were 226.
We need to be finding ways to entice new dogs and new exhibitors into our sport. Every aspect of the sport must have on their thinking caps to find ways to help relieve the burden felt by clubs and exhibitors. To that end the Dog Show Superintendents Association made a proposal to AKC during the DSSA’s 2009 Annual Meeting.
As of 2009 there were 529 clubs that had shows with entries of 800 dogs or less; there were 226 with 600 dogs or less. Many of those clubs held back-to-back events. The DSSA proposed to AKC that clubs with these smaller entries be permitted to hold their two events on the same day. NOTE: This is NOT adding events to the calendar; it is simply taking events that are now held over two days and permitting them to be held on one day – one event in the morning and one in the afternoon. You are taking two shows, for example, that may have 600 entries each day (a total of 1200 dogs over the two days) and having those 1200 dogs judged in one day. Indeed, it may free up some dates on the calendar! That could help lessen the competition between clubs on some weekends. And, don’t forget there is already precedent for having multiple events in one day (Obedience).
So, what does that do? For one, it helps a club lessen their site expense, their catering expense, transportation expense, etc. While their judging panel fees would remain the same, or, in some cases might increase a bit, their judges’ expense would probably be shortened by one day. And, superintending expense for the superintendents and set-up crews on the road could be reduced as well, which would result in a savings to the club. If you have two clubs having four events in two days instead of four events spread over four days, the savings would be even better. All of this could help stabilize entry fees.
AND, the best thing is that exhibitors would be able to show twice in one day and not have an overnight expense. If two clubs got together and held two events on Saturday and two on Sunday, exhibitors would have the opportunity to exhibit their dogs four times over two days. And, they all wouldn’t be leaving immediately after their dogs were judged. If they had the opportunity to show again in the afternoon, they would be there to talk to spectators, prospective puppy buyers and exhibitors, AND TO EACH OTHER. Spectators who arrive at lunchtime would have the opportunity to see the dogs/breeds they really wanted to observe because they would be judged again. It becomes a win-win.
Oh, you say, but there’s a big problem in hiring judges, only multiple group judges would be hired. Not so. These clubs are presently contracting for panels to cover two separate days. They are not hiring only multiple group judges now to cover their two days. Could there be a problem with clubs being in a position of having a judge drawing more than 175 dogs over the two events in one day? Yes, but entries are down so much that many judges frequently have much time left at the end of their assignments. But, if a club chooses their panel and assigns the breeds carefully, and takes advantage of the many provisionals available, you may find there’s more opportunity for more judges to judge.
Day might run too long? We do shows with 2500 and 3000 dogs in one day now. Certainly, using two 600-dog events as an example, we can get 1200 done in a day. And, just as it is now, depending upon the space at the show site, if more rings are an option, the day finishes earlier.
Another creative option might be having the two events in one day but one set of Groups with all BOB winners from each event competing. This would not necessarily mean you would have two of every breed in the Group ring. Don’t forget that over a Saturday/Sunday there are breeds that have the same BOB winner each day. Or, maybe that could be an option where the show site has limited space.
The Association also asked that Group Shows be allowed to have two events in one day. We further asked that an independent Specialty Club be allowed to hold their event on the same grounds as a host All-Breed (without the All-Breed having to give up classes for that breed) and for exhibitors to be allowed to show in both events.
The Association requested that a pilot program with these features be allowed for a period of one year and that at the end of that year to evaluate the results and look at all the pros and cons. We believe it will take a year to adjust everyone’s thinking and their skills in holding events such as these. It allows time for suggestions/recommendations for tweaks and allows anything that can happen to have that opportunity. This way we get input from clubs and exhibitors and judges and discover any pitfalls BEFORE any permanent decision is made that has to be constantly adjusted. This way allows a fully formed event procedure with appropriate limits and rules to come into existence in the proper manner.
Just because it’s not been done before is no reason to reject such a proposal out of hand. Superintendents would not make such a proposal unless they believed it could work and would help these smaller clubs. The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work. The best thing that could happen is that it gives these clubs that are in danger of having to forfeit holding events the opportunity to get back on solid financial ground again.
Is this thinking outside the box? Yes it is. There will have to be a lot of this in order for the sport to survive and become better for the experience.
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