Memorial Day weekend 2013, Saturday, May 25, through Monday, May 27, is chock full of clusters and shows that have more to offer than the average dog show, so there is a lot to report this week.

Right from the start, the Heart of Illinois Cluster of Dog Shows drew me in with the terrific artwork adorning the front of the premium list. And someone in the club has marketing skills, because just a few pages later the clubs laid it all out for me with this:

The cluster is hosted by the Illinois Valley KC of Peoria and the Corn Belt KC, each of which holds two all-breed shows between Friday, May 24, and Monday, May 27, at the McLean County Ag Expo Center in Bloomington, Ill. What they didn’t mention in their “Top Ten” is that they also offer cash prizes or gas cards for the winners of regular Groups and Best in Show each day. On Saturday and Monday, every Group placement will receive a gas card. This is such a great way to give back a little bit to exhibitors.

Adding to this cluster’s appeal is the fact that breed seminars and hands-on workshops will take place Friday and Saturday – all at no charge to attendees – and will include the Wirehaired Vizsla, Xoloitzcuintli, Norwegian Lundehund, Brittany and Finnish Spitz.

A dozen breed clubs hold specialties or supported entries during the weekend, several with sweepstakes, and obedience and rally are offered on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a microchip clinic and a B match during the weekend as well.


Another cluster takes place the same weekend just under four hours northeast of Bloomington, in Kalamzoo, Mich. For sheer volume of useful and interesting “special attractions,” this cluster may be as good as any I’ve covered. The West Michigan Apple Blossom Cluster offers five all-breed shows Thursday through Monday, hosted by the Pontiac, Holland Michigan, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Greater Muskegon Kennel Clubs. The big draw for this cluster, in my view, is its Breeders’ Cup competition, now in its sixth year.

At each of the first four all-breed shows, Best Bred-by-Exhibitor competition will take place at the Group level, judged by the regular Group judges. On Sunday prior to Best in Show, Wayne Cavanaugh will select the Breeders’ Cup winner from the Bred-by Group winners from those four days. The only drawback I can see to this competition is that professional handlers are not eligible to participate with dogs they’ve bred. While I understand that, as stated in the premium, the cluster “wishes to honor and highlight the breeders in our fancy,” numerous professional handlers are also breeders, and very talented breeders at that, and it’s a shame there isn’t some way for them to be included. But it is great that these clubs are really going all out to recognize breeders.

As if that weren’t enough, these clubs also offer a Best Junior in Cluster competition with a grand prize $500 scholarship; a free Tax and Bookkeeping Seminar by the AKC Professional Handlers Program, which is open to anyone who wants to attend; a Junior Handler Clinic also offered by AKC Registered Handlers, offering individual instruction for kids; and a B match on Friday. The cluster includes several specialty shows and numerous supported entries as well.

On the East Coast, the Atlantic Shore Memorial Classic cluster will include four all-breed shows hosted by the Staten Island, Monmouth County, Plainfield and Union County Kennel Clubs, to be held at the East Freehold Park in Freehold, N.J., Friday through Monday. They have a lot more going on than just their regular dog shows.

Starting on Friday there will be a match following Best in Show. The weekend includes CGC testing as well as a weighing and measuring demonstration, which will be useful for judges and future judges, but also interesting for anyone with a weight or height requirement or disqualification in their breed. On Sunday the AKC Registered Handlers Program will conduct “An Afternoon with the Professionals” for junior handlers, and there will be an “Exhibitor Appreciation Party” that day with free pizza and soda for everyone.

On Monday following Best in Show judging, each of the Best in Show winners from the four shows will compete for a $500 cash prize in the “Best of the Best” competition. In honor of Memorial Day, also on Monday, serviceman Adam Murphy and his dog Paddy will be part of a special presentation.

May 8 also marks the closing date for one of Southern California’s premiere dog show clusters, the Mission Circuit, four all-breed shows with obedience and rally trials held Friday, May 24, through Monday, May 27, 2013, at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. This is a show where fanciers can watch big entries of good quality in many breeds, and where exhibitors can find majors as well.

The cluster actually begins on Thursday with specialties at the circuit’s indoor, air-conditioned venue. A couple of breeds have back-to-back specialties that day, and there are also agility trials every day beginning on Thursday.

On Friday Los Encinos KC holds its all-breed show, followed by Antelope Valley KC, San Fernando KC and San Gabriel Valley KC. Many Southern California breed clubs hold specialties during the four days or support the entries, offering special trophies and holding raffles and such, which adds a festive air to the entire show.

The Friday show includes Best Puppy competition through BIS and on Saturday Best Bred-by-Exhibitor, with reduced entry fees for both Puppy and BBE classes and a $300 cash prize each day for the special BIS winner. The generous photographers also offer a free photo to each owner whose dog places in the Best Puppy and Best BBE Groups. Purina is the cluster sponsor and also offers prizes.

There was a time when the Mission Circuit had little competition, but these days the Hangtown-Sierra Cluster, hree all-breed shows Saturday through Monday, gives it a run for its money. This Northern California cluster, which takes place Saturday through Monday in Placerville, Calif., 45 minutes east of Sacramento, has a lot to offer.

The festivities begin with Exhibitor Appreciation Day on Saturday, including an armband raffle with 20 $20 prizes and two $50 prizes, all of which are vouchers to be redeemed for food or merchandise at the shows’ vendors. On Sunday the clubs will hold their second annual “Canines Got Talent… or Silly Pet Tricks” competition. Dogs entered do not have to be entered at the regular shows and three “celebrity” judges will select the most talented (or silly) winners. The entry fee is just $5 and all proceeds go to a local canine service organization, such as the sheriff’s K9 unit or search and rescue.

Hangtown-Sierra also offers CGC testing and a wide range of health clinics, including eyes, BAER and cardiac testing. The Canine Semen Bank will also be on site for collection and evaluation. Microchipping will take place on Monday.

Other exciting clusters that weekend include the Tulsa Roundup Dog Shows, and the Memorial Day Dog Shows in southwestern Ohio, which include four shows hosted by the Warren County and Cincinnati Kennel Clubs.

On Sunday this week, I’ll report on the upcoming Memorial Weekend Classic to be held in New Castle, Pa., on the holiday weekend. This cluster has so much going on that it deserves its own article.