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Florida Shows in Jeopardy

Florida Classic Park

As I have written here, the month of January is critical to the AKC conformation show season. Three venues provide so many points that a dog who does well at one or more of the sites can build an almost insurmountable lead for a national campaign. One of those clusters is the Florida Classic Cluster in mid January. The cluster in Brooksville FL offers exhibitors ten shows in a eleven day period every year. The other sites are on the West Coast in Indio (Palm Springs) CA the first week of January and in Portland OR the third week of the year.

For some time I have heard rumors that the January shows at the Florida Classic Park in Brooksville were in jeopardy because of a dispute among four of the host clubs. The site is owned by four clubs, the Clearwater Kennel Club, the Tampa Bay Kennel Club, the Pasco Florida Kennel Club and the Inverness Kennel Club. The Inverness KC has brought suit against the Florida Classic Park and Florida Classic Clusters LLC Last Friday, the Tampa Bay Times reported, “The ongoing legal battle means the 2013 Florida Classic Clusters, scheduled to be held Jan. 10 to 14 and Jan. 16 to 20, likely will not be held at the Hernando facility, its home since 1999.”

The Tampa Bay Times article outlines some of the grievances that sparked the suit, but I’m not interested in who did what to whom. I am more concerned about what impact this suit will have on the sport. January’s shows in Florida shows provide a balance to the show game that will be out of kilter if these shows do not find a home. Exhibitors who live on the West Coast, and those who have the money to travel to there, will have a distinct advantage on those living this side of the Mississippi, roughly 70 percent of those showing dogs. The impact on the clubs party to the suit is unclear.  Not only is there the possibility that the January cluster will be lost, the site may be lost permanently, impacting the viability of these clubs and others who use the site.

There are impacts beyond our own hobby, beyond the four clubs, and the exhibitors at the cluster. There are dozens of businesses that will have a difficult time recovering from the loss of this venue, e.g., show vendors, local restaurants, motels, and others.

While I spend a lot of my time writing about the rankings races, records, and competitions at the marquee shows, my main mission is to promote this game I love. I am a firm believer that the purpose of dog shows is not to break records or gather titles, but to put on display the wonderful animals we share our lives with, and to educate the public about what we do and why we do it. Those of us in the sport have an obligation to put our own interests second to the viability of the hobby. There’s not much satisfaction in having a kennel full of titles and records if you have no place to take your dogs to show them off.

I frequently hear from one person or another who has a complaint against the AKC, a club, or another group of people. I almost never hear from someone who wants to know what they can do to strengthen the dog game. I’m sure that there are some legitimate issues to be worked out in this case. I hope the parties can reach a quick and mutually satisfactory resolution. It would be a shame if the legacy the parties to this suit left to the sport was the demise of one of its most successful and loved institutions. 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.
  • Karen Abhalter September 13, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    I am President of the Central Florida Cairn Terrier Club and am very disappointed with the current situation going on here in my backyard. Our club holds its annual Specialty and Sweepstakes during the Florida Classic Cluster. It is our opportunity to make some money with ways and means and we have held a buffet luncheon for our fellow cairn lovers the past three years. It has always been a good time for all exhibitors to get together that have not seen each other all year. If the 4 clubs cannot come to terms, small breed clubs like ours will be the big losers.

    • keenanb
      barbara keenan September 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      please have someone cotact me if these shows might be cancelled,the all terrier show in november

  • sshephard
    Susan Shephard September 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I hope that the four clubs can realize that they have more in common than not, find some middle ground and move on to having the shows. Whatever the issues are, hopefully they can understand taking care of the sport is what they must be concerned with. Currently it appears most of the shows have been moved to the Ocala show site.

  • Sonya Henderson,Raynics Bassets September 21, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I am just getting around to reading about this situation with the four clubs in Florida and tho I have not been to what I imagine to be a super SPECIAL weekend of shows,it saddens me to read that it might be coming to an end.I am historically very aware of what happens to the wonderful shows that are no longer available to dog people as professionals trying to earn a living or owners who enjoy the time spent with breeder exhibitors that show because its what they truly enjoy doing with friends in the same breed and has been part of the family “stuff” that they have made a part of their lives! GoodLuck to all in keeping the shows together!! Will be in my thoughts and prayers for the BEST IN SHOWS outcome!!

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