The Kentuckiana Cluster, probably my favorite cluster in the U.S. overall, closes next week. The Mid-Kentucky, Louisville and Evansville Kennel Clubs host four all-breed shows Thursday through Sunday in Louisville, with the Combined Specialty Clubs of Louisville on Wednesday. And boy, do they have a lot going on.

I should first mention that this year the cluster has changed superintendents. Instead of Onofrio, the clubs are using MB-F, so be sure to remember that when you make entries.

Now let’s get to all the activities for juniors. On Sunday there will be a regional junior handler competition for kids who qualify, and the final winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Three Awards of Merit will be issued, each accompanied by a $250 scholarship. The competition is free to enter, and the cluster’s premium list includes all of the information about qualifying.

There’ll be two more activities for youngsters. On Friday afternoon, the Junior Dog Judging Contest takes place, much like the one held at Chicago International. Contestants will judge up to five dogs per class for three or four breeds, and an AKC judge will evaluate their proper placements of the classes. There’s a prize for the overall winner. On Saturday afternoon, the AKC Registered Handlers program will hold a free handling clinic for kids of all ages.

The Kentuckiana Cluster in mid-March includes activities for junior handlers of all ages. Photo by Christina Freitag.

There will be eye and BAER clinics on Friday and Saturday, and an OFA cardiac clinic on Sunday. At least 10 breed clubs hold concurrent specialties during the cluster, some of them twice, so there are lots of opportunities for points in those breeds. Dozens of breeds will have specialty shows and supported entries during the cluster. In addition, the Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America is hosting an open show, with all Miscellaneous and FSS breeds invited, on Saturday after Best in Show, so it will likely be a good place to see these breeds. The Eukanuba Breeder’s Stakes will take place on Friday and Saturday. This is a terrific cluster just based on the venue, and the size and quality of the entries, and all these extras are icing on the cake.

Now let’s talk about cash! Did you know that the Heart of America Cluster offers a $1,000 cash prize at each of its all-breed shows for Best in Show? And $500 for Group First, $200 for second, $150 for third and $100 for fourth. These are such generous prizes. The Leavenworth KC hosts the Thursday and Friday shows, while the Heart of America KC hosts Saturday and Sunday, all in Kansas City.

The Thursday Group and BIS winners will also receive a framed reproduction antique dog print in memory of Judy Goodin, who was a past president of Leavenworth and show chair of Heart of America. All cash prizes are in Judy’s memory too. There’s more… each day a pair of Chris Christensen shears and grooming bag are offered for BIS, donated by D’Artagnan’s Pet Supplies, which also offers gift certificates for Group First winners and prizes for Best Junior Handler.

This cluster also has concurrent specialties in Weimaraners, Samoyeds, French Bulldogs, Yorkies and Poodles, one day for each breed except Poodles, which have them on both Thursday and Friday. There will be an eye clinic on Thursday, semen collection and freezing services every day and microchipping Friday and Saturday.

Speaking of dozens of specialties and supported entries, the five-day Celtic Classic, Wednesday, March 13 through Sunday, March 17, has seven supported entries the first two days, three specialties and 10 supported entries Friday, 11 specialties and 12 supported entries Saturday, and three specialties and 12 supported entries on Sunday. There will also be an independent Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America specialty on Sunday.

This cluster also boasts an AKC Show Committee seminar to help club members learn more about the process of putting on a dog show, and an all-breed Pee Wee Junior Showmanship event on Saturday for all ages. This cluster is hosted by the York, Lancaster and Delaware County Kennel Clubs and takes place in York, Pa.

It’s great knowing that so many clubs are finding clever ways to add more to their events. Email me at if your club has something interesting going on at its dog show.