One of my goals this year is to get out to each part of the U.S. and talk with my Dog Show Poop and Back Story readers. Over the last 40 years, I have attended shows in a lot of places, but I have never been to Michigan for a dog show. I will remedy that later this month when I attend the Apple Blossom Cluster, May 24 through May 28 in Kalamazoo.

When I first started showing in the 1970s, there were q few big clusters around with the January “Florida Circuit” being the biggest of the multiple-day offerings. Now routine are the four all-breed show clusters, but five days of all-breed shows are still rare. This will be my first, a kind of pie-eating contest for dog show junkies. This cluster is also remarkable because it represents a level of cooperation and team work not always present in our fancy. Five separate clubs, the Pontiac Kennel Club, the Holland Michigan Kennel Club, the Grand Rapids Kennel Club, the Kalamazoo Kennel Club & the Greater Muskegon Kennel Club, will each host one show.

The Apple Blossom Cluster has been a staple in Kalamazoo for these past 35 years, although this is its first year in the five-show format. Within the five all-breed shows, there will be specialties hosted by the American Bullmastiff Association, Western Michigan Chow Chow Club, Dalmatian Club of Greater Detroit & the Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, with entries supported by the Huron Valley Saluki Club, the Newfoundland Club of America, the Parson Russell Terrier Association of America, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Southwest Michigan, the Midwest Collie Club & the Lakeshore Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club.

Special competitions include a Best Bred By Exhibitor in Cluster and a Best Junior in Cluster. On Sunday, May 27, Argentine judge, Mr. Adrian Landarte, will award The Breeders’ Cup and a $1,000 cash prize to the Best Bred by Exhibitor chosen from the 28 group winners from the first four days of the cluster. On Monday, Mrs. Stephanie L. DeGraaf, Mrs. Gretchen Conradt & Col. Joe B. Purkhiserher will award a $500 scholarship to the Best Junior in Cluster chosen from the winners of Best Junior in Show at each of the five all-breed shows. In addition to the special competitions, there will be a special briefing for new exhibitors,
a briefing on the rules, regulations and policies of the American Kennel Club, and how they relate to exhibitors and breeders, plus CGC & TDI testing.

The cluster organizing clubs have partnered with the Kalamazoo Expo Center to provide exhibitors with state-of-the-art facilities. The 90,000-square-foot expo center has upgraded electrical, waterlines, restrooms & concessions. There are plenty of RV sites with hookups and reserved spaces that will put you steps away from both inside and outside rings.

The cluster committee is determined to make this one of the best events anywhere and has taken the extra step of prohibiting committee members from entering a Champion of Record or Obedience Trial Champion, or handling a Champion of Record or Obedience Trial Champion at any of the five cluster events. Nor will any member compete for the Breeders’ Cup Finale on Sunday. MB-F is in charge of entries which close May 9. I hope many of you will enter and join me in Kalamazoo for a doggie Memorial Day to remember. And that’s today’s Back Story.