Happy New Year! With the holidays over the past 10 days, I didn’t report on the shows closing today, January 2, but several terrific events do. Among the best are the Winterfest shows, held at Seaside Park in Ventura, Calif., on January 18, 19 and 20 this year. Hosted by the Channel City and San Fernando Kennel Clubs and the Ventura County Dog Fanciers Association, these shows include a B match and CGC testing on Thursday, Best Veteran, Best Puppy and Best Bred-by-Exhibitor competitions at the three all-breed shows and a $100 cash prize for Best in Show each day. But the best aspect of this cluster is that the show site is just steps away from the Pacific Ocean, with most breeds judged outdoors on beautiful lawns under gorgeous skies. What more can you ask for?

Also closing today is the great Rose City Classic, a full day of specialties followed by four all-breed shows in Portland, Ore., January 16 through 20. Best In Show Daily’s Billy Wheeler will attend these exhibitor-friendly shows, and will provide us all with a full report. Another group of shows that closes today is the Florida Gulf Coast Cluster II’s three shows that follow Cluster I’s five all-breeds in Ocala, Fla. I reported on December 18 on all the goings on between the two sets of shows, all happening at the Greater Ocala Show Grounds. Several other events close today, but let’s take a look now at the shows that close next Wednesday, January 9.

I’ll always fondly remember when we went to the Baton Rouge KC shows at the Louisiana State University field house. My memories include good entries, good friends and lots of fun. BRKC now holds its two shows with Alexandria KC to make up the four-day Mardi Gras Cluster held in Alexandria. At the Saturday and Sunday shows, Alexandria offers Best Brace competition, something we see so seldom today, with Best Puppy competition on Saturday. The club also holds a raffle on Saturday with all sorts of goodies on offer, and a B match on Saturday evening. Dr. Renee Carter will conduct an eye clinic on Saturday as well.

A brand new cluster is taking place in Florida and runs from Thursday, January 24, through Sunday, January 27. It’s called the Gat-R-Done Cluster and is hosted by the Lake Eustis KC and the Greater Gainesville DFA. Held at the same show grounds as the Florida Gulf Coast Clusters I and II, in Ocala, these clubs offer Best Puppy and Best BBE competition, an armband drawing each day for a $50 gas card, complimentary coffee and donuts each morning, refreshments during Group judging and CGC tests on Saturday and Sunday. I have a feeling this new cluster will be working hard to please exhibitors.

The Richmond Raceway Complex in Virginia’s capital city is a 1,000-acre facility that houses the Richmond International Raceway, as well as six buildings designed for exhibitions, shows and meetings. At this site on Friday, January 25, the Potomac Hound Club, Virginia Terrier Club and Chesapeake Toy Dog Fanciers Club will host their shows for the first time at this venue.

All three Group clubs offer CGC testing on Friday for all breeds, and are also offering cash prizes for first through fourth place both in the regular Groups and in the Bred-by-Exhibitor Groups.

Making up the balance of the Checkered Flag Cluster will be the two Middle Peninsula KC of Virginia events. The Saturday show includes the American Foxhound National Specialty. There will be an armband drawing on Saturday, and MPKC sponsors a Take the Lead “Race to the Finish” party on Saturday night following Best in Show, at the Torque Club in the Raceway Complex. The promo for the party says the evening will include “fine food, competitive racing, prizes, raffles and more.” I’m sure it will be lots of fun!

The three dogs that win the Best Bred-by-Exhibitor Groups on Friday, along with the Best BBE in Show winners from the two all-breed shows, will compete on Sunday for Best Bred-by-Exhibitor in Cluster, the prize for which is $100 in cash offered by Bob and Polly Smith. There is nothing better than a cluster that gives extra attention to breeders.

We’re looking forward to seeing what clubs around the U.S. have planned in the New Year, so please email me at christibisd@gmail.com three or four weeks before your show closes if you’d like for us to report on what makes your show special.