The weekend of August 10 and 11 will find all-breed shows in eight locations around the United States, all closing next Wednesday.

The biggest cluster based on number of days will be the Adirondack Circuit, five all-breed shows beginning on Wednesday, August 7, hosted by the Saratoga (NY), Glen Falls, Mohawk Valley and Bennington County Kennel Clubs and the Southern Adirondack Dog Club, taking place at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, N.Y. The circuit, like many big clusters, has a great deal going on for exhibitors and spectators.

Indeed, one entire page in the premium list is devoted to the special activities planned for the cluster. On Thursday there will be a “Best Dressed Campsite” contest for everyone who is staying on the show grounds. On Friday evening at 6, there will be a complimentary pizza party with a DJ and dancing. On Saturday the cluster hosts a barbecue dinner accompanied by Saratoga KC’s B match, and a silent and live auction, the items for which will be on display all day at the show. There will be raffles as well.

Also on Saturday, AKC registered handlers will conduct “An Afternoon with the Professionals” during which all exhibitors can get “handling instruction and ring tips” free of charge. Eye and heart clinics, microchipping and CGC testing will take place during the circuit and Best Puppy, Best Bred-by-Exhibitor and Best Veteran in Show competitions take place Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Last year entries at this cluster ranged from about 650 the first day to nearly 900 on the weekend, which aren’t the best numbers, but the clubs are certainly making an effort to provide a lot of perks for those who attend.

Fewer than five hours southwest of Ballston Spa in Harrisburg, Pa., the Penn Ridge and Harrisburg Kennel Clubs will hold three all-breed shows the same weekend, perhaps one of the reasons the Ballston Spa shows aren’t as large as they could be. These shows last year drew nice entry numbers, from 1,130 on Friday to 1,552 Saturday and 1,454 on Sunday.

The Keystone Cluster, held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, bills itself as “the fun cluster that gives back,” and there can’t be much arguing with that. The fun kicks off on Saturday when the cluster and Purina invite exhibitors to enjoy free pizza and beverages during Group judging. Following Best in Show on Saturday, the “Summer in Paris Casino Night” fundraiser begins, where for a $75 donation fanciers get a buffet dinner and “funny money” with which to play many games of chance. The fee also includes a ticket for the “fabulous prize raffle” at the end of the night, and prizes include the ultimate $5,000 cash prize, as well as jewelry, trips, artwork and more. For those who aren’t into gambling, there will be a DJ and dancing. The evening also includes cash prizes in the karaoke contest and the “This is Paris” costume contest. The evening is sponsored by the Penn Ridge KC Charitable Foundation.

Fanciers have further opportunities to take home greenbacks in the armband drawings held each day for cash prizes ranging from $100 to $200. For juniors there will be a luncheon and raffle on Friday, and aspiring Junior Showmanship judges can attend AKC’s “Judging Junior Showmanship” seminar that day as well. The weekend also includes a Chuck-a-Duck contest to benefit Take the Lead, 4-to-6 Puppy competition and a balloon artist on Saturday who will make all sorts of dogs and other shapes to entertain the kids.

Perhaps the most special event of the cluster will be the arrival on Saturday of Zeke, the Harrisburg Police Department’s K9 officer that was injured earlier this year when, as reported by the Patriot-News, a suspect fired at police and the Belgian Malinois was wounded. Zeke and his partner, Cpl. Ty Miek, will be at the Purina booth on Saturday to meet exhibitors and visitors.

I’d say the Penn Ridge and Harrisburg clubs are doing an amazing job of creating a great three-day event for fanciers.

Over in Washington state, the Nisqually Kennel Club is inviting exhibitors to “take me out to the ball park,” since their show is held at the Dream Team Park athletic complex in Lacey, Wash. The club encourages casual attire with a baseball theme for the two all-breed shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Along with obedience, rally and 4-to-6 Puppy competition, Nisqually is very specifically focusing on junior handlers this weekend, noting that “they are the future of our sport.” Best Junior Handler both days will win a $500 educational scholarship, juniors enjoy reduced entry fees and gift bags for everyone entered in Junior Showmanship on Sunday, and on Saturday there will be a baseball-themed lunch for the kids after juniors judging is completed. Since I mentioned entry numbers for the other clubs, I can report that Nisqually last year had entries of 1,044 and 1,126.

Next time you attend a show where the clubs have made an effort to provide special attractions and extra activities for exhibitors or spectators, seek out show committee members and let them know you appreciate it. Then encourage your own club to add some extras to your show weekend, if you haven’t already.

If you’ve been to or in the future go to a show that has an extra activity that you especially enjoy, leave a comment below, or contact me at  and give me the details (and photos if you took any) and I’d be happy to report on it. Have fun at the shows!