Entries close next week for shows in 13 U.S. states on Labor Day, including those in both Northern and Southern California.

In Northern California, back-to-back Gold Country KC shows, along with three obedience trials, will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 31, and September 1, at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, billed by the club as “California’s most beautiful fairgrounds.” Grass Valley, the fairgrounds’ location, is about an hour north of Sacramento, the state capital. The club will provide coffee and donuts for exhibitors each morning, and the AKC Owner-Handler series, Best Bred-by-Exhibitor, health clinics and CGC testing will all be part of the weekend.

Several dog shows take place each year at the 100-acre Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, Calif.

In Valley Center, Calif., just under 40 miles north of San Diego, the Cabrillo Kennel Club will hold its back-to-back shows at the Bates Nut Farm. Bred-by and AKC Owner-Handler competition will also take place here, along with mobile ultrasounds and cardiac testing by Scan in a Van and a B match is scheduled for Friday evening.

One thing we know for sure about planners for the Cotton Land Cluster is that they’re a fun and clever group of dog fanciers. The first thing that stands out about these shows is that exhibitors who keep their setup areas especially clean during the four days will be rewarded with an opportunity to enter the “Cotton Ball” drawing, with a $100 cash prize to the winner. Members of the Bayou KC and Vicksburg KC of Mississippi will inspect the setup area each evening for cleanliness and pass out forms to register for the drawing for those setups deemed worthy… a clever way to encourage folks to keep things tidy.

The cluster, held at the civic center in Monroe, La., includes four all-breed shows, Friday, August 20, through Monday September 2, with many specialties and supported entries, and there is more fun planned than you can imagine, starting with the 13th annual Handlers’ Match on Saturday evening. In addition to a Cajun dinner and a 50/50 raffle, there will be a regular raffle the grand prize for which is a gift certificate for a five-day Carnival cruise. Other prizes include a diamond pendant and a flat-screen TV.

The match itself will have contests for the Best Dressed Dog/Handler, Dog/Handler Look Alike, Best Retired Show Dog/Truck Dog/Veteran, Stupid Pet Tricks and Ugliest and Prettiest Tack Box Rats. An all-breed puppy match, junior handling and senior handling judged by juniors – the juniors will also select the dogs shown by the seniors – will add to the fun. Entries are just $5, and proceeds will benefit a canine charity. Sounds like about as much fun as anyone could expect to have, even at a dog show!

On second thought, maybe Monday will provide the most fun, when a “Casual Day Pajama Party” will take place. Exhibitors are encouraged to wear “their favorite PJs, smoking jacket, robe” or other tasteful and non-revealing sleepwear. Prizes will be awarded for the Most Unique Pajama-Dressed Person, Best Pajama-Dressed Judge and Best Pajama-Dressed Exhibitor. I know, you’re wondering who’s on the judging panel, aren’t you? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dougie Holloway wins the prize for Best Pajama-Dressed Judge.

The cluster provides bathing facilities for exhibitors, CGC testing and health clinics too.

In my hometown of Raleigh, N.C., that week, the Tarheel Labor Day Cluster will take place at the state fairgrounds. The Alamance, Durham, Raleigh and Cary Kennel Clubs will host four all-breed shows with obedience and rally each day.

Junior handlers will get special treatment at the cluster when, on Saturday, the Durham KC will provide free lunch, a program and a “suit swap” for current and former juniors following the AKC Registered Handler program’s free clinic for juniors. A Best Junior Handler in Cluster will be selected on Monday from the BJH winners from the four shows.

The Tarheel will also include health clinics and a Take the Lead party on Saturday evening.

Labor Day falls just three weeks before the official end of summer on September 21, but it will still be plenty hot around the country at the Labor Day shows, so please remember not to leave any dogs, for any length of time, in an enclosed vehicle, not even with windows cracked open and not even at night. Temperatures can rise to fatal levels within a very short time, even when it seems “cool enough” outside. It’s never worth the risk to leave dogs in a vehicle without air conditioning running, and even then without checking on them every 10 minutes or so to be sure they’re safe.

If your club has something special happening at its upcoming show, or if you went to a show that had an extra activity that you especially enjoyed, please leave a comment below, or contact me at Christi@bestinshowdaily.com and give me the details and I’d be happy to report on it.