Does it make a difference in a show’s entry when clubs go out of their way to do something really different, to make their shows stand out from all the rest? I’m not sure, but I do know that’s exactly what makes shows memorable, and I feel certain the shows exhibitors most remember are the shows they’re most likely to try to get to each year.

Exhibitors, handlers and judges all get in on the fun at the Woofstock dog shows in Northern California in June. Photo courtesy Contra Costa County KC.

One great example of two clubs that have made their shows utterly unforgettable is the Woofstock Cluster, held in Vallejo, Calif., in early June each year. The Contra Costa County and Lake County Kennel Clubs have been holding their love fest the first week of June for a number of years now, and people really look forward to these shows, and indeed plan well ahead for them. And I don’t think it’s just because they have a chance to dress up like flower children and hippies. I think that the clubs have made the atmosphere so friendly and relaxed that everyone just thoroughly enjoys the experience.

Dogs get in on the action at Woofstock too. Photo courtesy Contra Costa County KC.

Two more clubs that are working on developing a theme for their weekend are the San Gabriel Valley and Antelope Valley Kennel Clubs, which will host the Western Doggie Roundup on Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4, 2012. These shows, held at the expo center in City of Industry, Calif., about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, will have a western theme, and the premium list requests “western attire all weekend.” The clubs are offering all kinds of fun and many extras.

The show weekend actually starts off on Friday, with specialty shows for Silky Terriers and Shar Pei, and a puppy match hosted by San Gabriel Valley. Two contests will be held during the weekend for humans, the first on Saturday for Best Western Costume in Show, with judges Vicki Holloway, Tony Vasquez and Stephen Cabral and the second on Sunday for Best Western Belt Buckle in Show. Adrian Sanchez and Sheila Brown join Ms. Holloway as judges for this competition. Vicki personally offered a $100 prize on Saturday for Best Costume, and the Store 4 Dogs has donated a $25 gift certificate for the contestant who has the best hardware holding his (or her) britches up.

Saturday offers Best Puppy competition and Sunday, Best Bred-by-Exhibitor, with a $100 prize for Best in Show at each. The Pointer Club of Southern California is holding a concurrent specialty on Saturday, so Pointer folks will have two opportunities to show their dogs. Both clubs offer obedience and rally trials, and mixed breeds will be welcomed.

I hope the fun of this western weekend catches on as well for these clubs as Woofstock has for the Northern California bunch.

The Old Fort Cluster is five days again this year, beginning on Halloween, October 31, with the Northeastern Indiana KC, La Porte County KC on Thursday, Sturgis KC on Friday, Marion KC on Saturday and the second Northeastern Indiana KC show on Sunday. These shows are held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and Expo Center in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Although the cluster doesn’t have a theme, the clubs do have some special things happening. One unique offering is an armband raffle each day for a Vera Bradley purse. Of course, men won’t find that as appealing as women will, but I’m sure the winners will be pleased in any case!

To make life easier for exhibitors during the five days, the cluster will have bathing stations set up in the hall. The International Canine Semen Bank will have its mobile unit at the shows, and Dr. Jean Stiles will do eye exams on Saturday.

Young people are invited to attend “An Afternoon with the Professionals” on Sunday. The Friday show will include Best Puppy competition, Saturday Best Bred-by-Exhibitor, Sunday Best Veteran.

Extra Value for Exhibitors

The Brandon KC of Mississippi shows, held at the Scott County Coliseum in Forest, Miss., on November 3 and 4, offers a couple of nice perks for exhibitors that will help in what are lean times for many people. Entry fees for Puppy and Miscellaneous classes are just $18, which is at least $10 lower than those at most shows. Bred-by and Amateur Owner-Handler classes are just $20. The 4-to-6 Month Puppy competition on Saturday will cost just $12.50 to enter.

The club will have a booster bathtub set up for exhibitors on the show site, where the About Our Dogs vendor will generously provide complimentary Pure Paws shampoo. Excel Pet Care offers cash prizes of $150 each day for the Best in Show winners.

Obedience and rally trials will also be held each day, open only to purebred dogs, and an obedience match will be held on Friday. Canine Good Citizen testing will be available on Saturday.

The Southern Oregon Kennel Club offers Junior Showmanship competition at no charge at its shows on November 3 and 4. Its obedience and rally trials both days are open to mixed breeds in the AKC Canine Partners program.

The “Poop Scoopin’ Boogie” is an unusual offering at these shows. A prize will go to the contestant who proves their superior scooping talents by fitting the most items into a (clean, of course!) scooper and then getting them all into a bucket without dropping any.

Other special attractions at these shows, which will be held at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Central Point, Ore., will be CGC and Therapy Dog International testing following all competition on Saturday, and microchipping from 9 to 3 every day. The SOKC and the South West Oregon Bulldog Club will sponsor an eye clinic on Saturday with Dr. Sarah Maxwell.

This club also offers a dog washing station.

I found that a number of other shows closing on October 17 had terrific things going on. It’s great to know that clubs are giving so much thought to putting on events that offer fanciers convenience as well as lots of fun and, sometimes, make it a little easier on the pocketbook.

If you’d like us to report on what your club is doing to make its show unique, please email me at