With only two more Ch shows to go this year – BUBA & LKA, I thought I’d do a quick overview of show entries, as much was made this summer about the shows returning. Would they come back bigger and better, be the same or smaller and different than pre Covid? Would the exhibitors flock back, what would happen without benching? As it has turned out, on the whole entries started out low and continued (with the odd exception) being low for the rest of the year; with many societies drawing half (or less) the numbers pre lockdown.
With shows being held successive weekends and closing dates bunched together, it made the financial outlay far more obvious. Maybe in previous years an exhibitor would just be used to setting aside £X amount each month on entry fees; but after an absence of over a year, it came as a bit of a shock to the bank balance to realise just how expensive this hobby is/was. Plus people have had over a year to find other things to do; I think that many dog owners have found there are just many more (cheaper) alternatives for a day out.
This year there have been 14 Championship Shows crammed into a short season of just over 3 months & I’m not including the 4 Ch shows that didn’t offer the breed CC’s. This comprised of 4 Breed Club Shows and 10 General Ch Shows and overall, these 14 shows averaged an entry of 32 dogs with 27 dogs present. The 4 Breed Club shows averaged the highest number of dogs with entries of 38 and 33 dogs present and the General Ch shows 33 entries with 28 present; it will be no surprise to find that generally the partnership shows also attracted the highest entries. These shows had a mix of 5 Breed Specialist (with 1 x ‘1st timer’) and 9 ‘All-round’ judges (2 x ‘1st timers’); and a further breakdown reveals that the Breed Specialists averaged 28 dogs with 25 present and the ‘All-rounders’ 33 with 28 present.
From a committee’s point of view, it is not financially viable to hold stand-alone Ch shows with such low numbers of exhibitors and with ever increasing costs. We have neither the exhibitor base nor more crucially, any new people coming into the breed which are essential to keep the numbers up. Keeshonds have always had a small exhibitor base; in recent years it has dropped dramatically and is now around between 15 and 20 people who show regularly, with most entering multiple dogs. But if you get an entry of 40 dogs, each with a different owner, that’s potentially 60+ people attending the show and it’s these ‘bums on seats’ that the clubs’ need. These are the people who will buy catalogues, food from the kitchen and tickets for the raffle, all of which contribute to a show’s financial success.
The Kennel Club is actively encouraging all breed clubs (& General Ch Show societies) to embrace partnership shows, which for many will become the new norm as lockdowns and the subsequent loss of funds, has been the final straw for many of our dog friendly venues. There are many benefits for a club holding partnership shows, as even though the cost charged by each society varies, it is certainly much cheaper than a day’s hall hire. And from a practical point of view when you arrive at the show, everything is already set up ready to go – something to be taken into account when considering the age and health of the dwindling number of committee members.
It has been a case of trial and error, with some partnerships more successful than others and half decent weather playing a major part – something that no-one has any control over! Comments have been made by some that partnership shows lack the atmosphere of a stand-alone club show; but is it any different than being in an almost empty hall with just a few people rattling around in it? If anybody has any ideas that could be done to make a partnership show feel more like a club show then I’m sure that both secretaries would be happy to hear from you!