For the last 14 years, serious exhibitors have flocked to Brooksville FL in mid-January for the Florida Classic Cluster, 10 shows over 11 days, hosted by the Clearwater Kennel Club, Inverness Kennel Club, the Manatee Kennel Club, the Pasco Florida Kennel Club and the Tampa Bay Kennel Club. The cluster was one of the three premier events that begin our show season, often determining who our leaders were all year.

Last week I told you that the Tampa Bay Times was reporting that the cluster would not be held because of a lawsuit brought by the Inverness KC against the three clubs with whom they co-owned the Brooksville show site, the Clearwater KC, the Pasco Florida KC & the Tampa Bay KC. I am pleased to report that the three defendant clubs & the Manatee KC will hold a reformed cluster, dubbed the Florida Gulf Cluster, on the Greater Ocala Dog Club’s property in Ocala FL.

The new cluster, featuring eight all-breed shows, will begin January 11, 2013, run through January 15, take two days off, resuming January 18 & wrap up on the 20th. Each club will host two shows. Sweetening the deal even more will be a new cluster following at the same site. The Lake Eustis Kennel Club & the Greater Gainesville Dog Fanciers Association have teamed up for the four-day Gat-R-Don Cluster, which will run from January 24 through 27. That’s 12 shows in 17 days.

I am told that improvements to the site are underway and will include additional RV hookups and better water access. Additional acreage has been leased to assure sufficient parking and grooming space for what is hoped to be even larger entries. It is extremely gratifying to see clubs and individuals responding in such a positive way to threats to our sport. We all owe a debt to the clubs and individuals that have worked so hard to put these two new clusters together, preserving a critical opportunity for exhibitors every year while creating a new Florida tradition. Watch this page for more on these clusters as we near January. And that’s today’s Back Story.