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A New Florida Tradition

For the last 14 years, serious exhibitors have flocked to Brooksville FL in mid-January for the Florida Classic Cluster, 10 shows over 11 days, hosted by the Clearwater Kennel Club, Inverness Kennel Club, the Manatee Kennel Club, the Pasco Florida Kennel Club and the Tampa Bay Kennel Club. The cluster was one of the three premier events that begin our show season, often determining who our leaders were all year.

Last week I told you that the Tampa Bay Times was reporting that the cluster would not be held because of a lawsuit brought by the Inverness KC against the three clubs with whom they co-owned the Brooksville show site, the Clearwater KC, the Pasco Florida KC & the Tampa Bay KC. I am pleased to report that the three defendant clubs & the Manatee KC will hold a reformed cluster, dubbed the Florida Gulf Cluster, on the Greater Ocala Dog Club’s property in Ocala FL.

The new cluster, featuring eight all-breed shows, will begin January 11, 2013, run through January 15, take two days off, resuming January 18 & wrap up on the 20th. Each club will host two shows. Sweetening the deal even more will be a new cluster following at the same site. The Lake Eustis Kennel Club & the Greater Gainesville Dog Fanciers Association have teamed up for the four-day Gat-R-Don Cluster, which will run from January 24 through 27. That’s 12 shows in 17 days.

I am told that improvements to the site are underway and will include additional RV hookups and better water access. Additional acreage has been leased to assure sufficient parking and grooming space for what is hoped to be even larger entries. It is extremely gratifying to see clubs and individuals responding in such a positive way to threats to our sport. We all owe a debt to the clubs and individuals that have worked so hard to put these two new clusters together, preserving a critical opportunity for exhibitors every year while creating a new Florida tradition. Watch this page for more on these clusters as we near January. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.
  • Jennifer Kaltz September 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    I am all for showing your dogs and did like the Brooksville Cluster. but has anyone thought What this is doing to our dogs. I know you don’t have to enter every show, but who doesn’t?? I know my dogs would break down after 4 days, and refuse to show after that.
    And now they are adding Another cluster after the big one. WOW!!

  • Catherine Kelly September 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    I think this is a FABULOUS idea! I have been to the Ocala grounds every year to show and it is beautiful. I like the idea of not having to run long distances to get to a ring on time. As a handler i just love this idea and having so many shows in this particular area is a gift. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to make this happen!!

  • Victoria M. Jordan September 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    My personal thanks to Mr. Wheeler for authoring a positive report on the new Clusters in Ocala, Florida. As he stated, there has been negative news reported in local Florida papers. Our sport should always be promoted in a positive way to protect and support our beautiful purebred dogs and their breeders. A Cluster is a win-win situation for clubs and exhibitors as well. It is important that we all work together to protect the continuation of our sport by volunteering our help and inviting potential new members into our clubs. Please don’t forget our juniors, involve them and nurture their participation in your club as well.

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