Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MOVE OR ROVE – The Penultimate Blog

Report from a Roving Specialty
by Carole Stein

Longtime boxer fancier Carole Stein recently returned from the Frenchie National, a roving specialty that was held at the Hilton Hotel NE in Atlanta from Sunday, September 25, through Friday, September 30.  We don’t know what Carole decided about adding a Frenchie to her household, but she did bring back some interesting ideas on how an ABC roving national might work. At the end of Carole’s report, we’ll provide some stats from the 2011 Frenchie and ABC Catalogs; and as always, a few opinions. J 

I spent the last 4 days in Atlanta at the Frenchie National.  I think it’s always interesting to share different ideas, so here goes:  For entries, the Frenchie people considered this show to be very large (317 to 325 dogs at each of the 2 parent club sponsored shows held during the week, including 110 – 119 specials; also 147 entries in a mid-week sweepstakes.). It doesn't seem to be a "handlers’ breed," like boxers. It was fun to reconnect with Boxer folks who have downsized J.  But let's talk about the show.

First, there is a company called http://www.specialtydogshows.com/. This company only does specialty dog shows, and all I can say is Wow!! From the catalogue to the premium list to the judging schedule and rosettes, they know how to put the SPECIAL in “Specialty.” They are good enough to do large shows like the Golden National. I of course asked about their pricing versus that of the regular show superintendents – they claim that they are competitive, if not a bit less expensive.  BUT, you know you are at a Specialty, not just another dog show.

Because this is their business, they know where there are good and bad dog show venues first hand. And because the French Bull Dog Club of America has an interactive website, I could purchase tickets in advance for just the dinners or events I wanted to attend. When I arrived, there was a packet with my name tag to hang around my neck and all my tickets were inside.  Everyone received logo-imprinted coolers stuffed with lots of goodies.  Interestingly, rescue organizations put in things as well as various Frenchie kennels. The whole scene was very welcoming.  Frenchies, like many breeds, have a roving national, and this one was very well-done.  

Their annual meeting was one night, but it wasn't the whole night, it was part of the art auction night. The silent auction to benefit their charitable foundation went on the whole week of the show.  What I liked so much was how it was organized to allow every Frenchie owner to participate and feel like they were connected and involved, whether they were at the show or not.  I don't know how it was put together but there were HUGE baskets from various states, loaded with goodies from a particular state. I would correlate it to a local club building a basket and sending it.  That way, even if you weren't at the National you could still feel like you participated and you belonged and you contributed, either stuff or sweat equity. This is an old club – way older than the ABC and they know how to get things done.

There were also raffles going on.  People were buying tickets right and left and putting the ticket in the jar next to the item they were interested in. A fancier from Louisiana had built a 5 foot wooden whelping box inside of an armoire.  There was some serious stuff and less serious stuff.  But you had the whole week to bid and look and buy more raffle tickets to increase your chances. The club made it very easy for you to give money to all their good causes.

They ended the week by finishing up with the awards banquet and silent auction for their foundation, instead of separating the two events – you can see more on the FBDCA website. Their Top 20 was Wednesday night.

Frenchies are clowns.  Monday night there was a “pupcake” parade. The folks who dressed up themselves and their dogs took it all very seriously.  The judges, well they even hired a local member of the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast.  It was very funny.  

The hotel was fine. There was one restaurant and a small bar.  Food wasn't bad. Service was OK – rooms were clean.  The hotel had bus service that took you where you wanted to go within a 5 mile radius. The show committee made sure that there were clean-up materials in every nook and cranny in case of an accident. There were a whole lot of motor homes and not a whole lot of handlers. I very easily got in and out of Hartsfield.

As I have said several times over the years, you can't have a revolving national unless there is a process and committee in place first to make it happen. I personally think that airports are no longer of great importance – having adequate RV space is far more important, at least for a roving specialty, to which many more people would be driving rather than flying. And while the pictures that line the walls of the ballroom at the ABC are awesome, their storage should not be an issue IMHO

The big difference here is that the Frenchie parent club offers 2 shows in 5 days – 2 sets of 5pt majors! The parent club puts on both an independent specialty AND a national specialty.  Instead of a futurity, the club offered a sweepstakes on Wednesday. Frankly, I think the idea of having 2 shows in 5 days would be very appealing to a lot of people.

I know there are boxer folks on this list that are Frenchie Club members - please pass on my thanks for making a perfect stranger feel very welcome.

Just the Facts, Ma’am
Ok, now let’s compare the two shows – the Frenchie Nat’l and the ABC – and see where the twain might meet. As Carole noted, the Frenchie Nat’l offered two separate shows with 300+ entries each, plus a huge sweeps, a health clinic and DNA blood draw, breeders and judges educational seminars, annual awards banquet, foundation auction, Top 20, and several other events, all in the space of 5 days.

At the ABC, there were 752 dogs entered, including 193 in the Futurity, 163 Obedience entries, 97 Rally entries, and a large off-site Agility Trial. Plus all of the “extracurricular” activities mentioned above. Obviously the ABC entry is much larger and so are the dogs (you can’t tuck a 6 mos boxer puppy in a carrier under the seat on an airplane, much less an adult), but the ABC runs for 7 days rather than 5 to accommodate the larger entry, a separate dinner and auction for the ABCF, and the big performance events.

Even so, given the disparity in the size of the entry and the size and purpose of the dogs (Working versus Non-Sporting), I’m not sure we can draw any conclusions about how a French Bull Dog style roving show might work for the ABC. A better comparison would be the roving Dobe or Golden Retriever or Great Dane National Specialty. And in fact, the professional event planner that Carole mentioned above has coordinated in the past and is planning current and future national specialties for Goldens, Labs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Alaskan Malamutes, among other larger breeds. It would be very simple to contact the specialty-planning company and/or the national breed clubs involved to see how the company performed and how pleased the parent club was/is with a roving national system. (I’ve always wondered why the ABC has never considered using a professional event planner.)

Another good comparison might be the 2011 New England Boxer Regional, from which I just returned. Five sets of 5-pt majors – entries of 140+ to 160+ every day – a plethora of other activities, dinners, meetings, a heart clinic, a 4 – 6 mos puppy competition 4 days in a row, etc; and despite the sudden illness of one of the major organizers, a smoothly-run group of shows with very few glitches and no obvious dissension among the host clubs. 

The big question remains, however: Is an ABC roving national an idea whose time has come? And is a roving show the fairest solution to equal access for ALL ABC members and exhibitors?

This is the next-to-last installment in our “Moving or Roving series. Please tune in to our next blog for the surprise conclusion.  VZ J

1 comment:

  1. The idea of the specialty company planning this event was wonderful. It sounded like they knew exactly what to do and how to do it in the best manner possible. I think following up on this part of the info in the article should be a priority.