Marilyn Pipes | Chairperson Chisolm Trail Classic Cluster clubs, Bell County KC and Stephenville Texas KC.
1. What is the name of your show/cluster? Our cluster is the Chisolm Trail Classic of the Bell County and Stephenville Texas Kennel Clubs.
2. Where are your shows held? When? Our shows are held at the Bell County Expo Center, Belton, Texas, over the third week of October (Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday).
3. Can you please provide a brief history of your club? The cluster began in 2010 due to the Stephenville KC losing their venue. Bell County KC graciously invited us to partner with them to have our shows. It has been a great working relationship and has allowed Stephenville to continue in viability as a show-giving club. The Expo Center has made improvements to accommodate the dog shows and is very responsive to our needs. It is busy with many other activities (craft shows, livestock fair, horse competitions, concerts, etc.) but has not taken advantage of dog clubs that have a limited ability to contend with expensive venues. Stephenville KC has been in existence as a conformation show and obedience trial club since about 1980. Due to lower entries in recent years and the additional workers needed to hold obedience trials, we let our obedience approval lapse a few years ago. Marilyn Pipes has served as Show Chair for the past six years. Stephenville KC Show committee consists of Marilyn and Willie Pipes, Lynda and Melvin Misegadis, and Donna Svien. Bell County KC began in the early 1980s under the name Funtier KC of Greater Killeen, as an obedience trial club. In 1996, conformation shows were approved, and in 2008 the name was changed to Bell County KC, with Belton, Texas, as home. In addition to conformation shows, Bell County offers both AKC obedience and agility trials on different dates than the cluster show. George Armstrong has functioned as Bell County KC Show Chair for the past two years, having assumed the role from Sandra Schmidt who had stepped down due to health reasons. George is assisted by Danelle Brown and club officers Ed Eldridge, Terri Boedeker, Linda Stanley, and Darryl Schuller.
4. How are the following accommodated at your show/cluster: Parking; Grooming; Bathing; Hospitality; Vendors; Public Education? The Expo Center has ample parking and is located just off Interstate Highway 35 between Austin and Dallas. Parking is free and the Expo Center also has RV spots for rent on the grounds. They also help with grooming needs such as electricity, and provide a number of electric outlet banks for dryers and clippers, etc. There are two wash bays available in the portion used by the shows, and places to set up public ex-pens. The clubs provide clean-up bags for exhibitors outside the main building and at the hotels next door to the Expo Center. The Expo Center provides waste barrels inside and outside for use by exhibitors. Bell County KC handles vendor management. For the past three years, the cluster has utilized the volunteer services of the Southern Handlers Charity group to set up and “police” the reserved and free grooming spaces at the show. This group marks off the spaces using a map provided by the Stephenville KC, which is responsible for collecting the fees for reserved grooming spaces. Both clubs make a donation to the SHC Foundation for this help. The clubs pool receipts for vendors, grooming, and entry fees and reconcile with shared facility costs, etc., and split the net results equally. The cluster takes advantage of public education provided by the AKC Rep. This past year, we had New Exhibitor Orientation and a demonstration of the use of the wicket and scale.
5. Does your show/cluster offer the National Owner-Handled Series? Junior Showmanship? 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy? Best Bred-By? Specialties? Supported Entries? Yes, we always offer the NOHS! We offer Junior Showmanship and 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy, although we usually don’t offer this on all four days since it is so tiring for the puppies. We have, in the past, offered Best Bred-By, though not recently. This is due to the difficulty of finding additional people to judge these special Groups (Best Puppy, Best Bred-By, etc.) and having so many activities going on at the end of each judging day. Owner-Handled Groups are well received and have continued to draw more participants. We continue to have several Concurrent Specialties that regularly come to our cluster and are always open to accommodating others who want to join us. We have also had a number of Supported Entries (most recently, RRCUS, Red River Standard Schnauzer Club, Norwich Terrier, and others) and we are always happy to welcome other breed club inquiries to support the entry of their breed at our shows.
6. How are judging panels decided? Who stewards at your show(s)/cluster? Each club determines and hires the judges for their individual shows based on input from club membership. Sometimes, we are able to share multi-Group judges to reduce costs for both clubs. Each club makes its own contracts with steward clubs and for show photographers.
7. Are Breed Seminars and Judges Education offered? We have offered breed seminars and JE opportunities in the past, but have not had resources recently to manage them. We would love to provide JE opportunities and can pursue those when breed clubs have specialties or supported entries with our shows. That would be great! We would just need some help to do so as our memberships are small, and we all stay pretty busy!
8. How are your show(s)/cluster promoted? TV? Radio? Print Media? Social Media? We have not actively used advertising through TV, radio or print media. This past year, we took advantage of advertising our cluster through an email blast. The Southern Handlers group as well as the clubs with supported entries or specialties posted on social media regarding our shows.
9. What are some of the challenges that you’ve had to face as show/cluster chair? As with many other clubs, the need for more volunteers and more working members is a challenge. Like many dog clubs, our membership is aging and there does not seem to be many younger people with interest in club participation. Personally, I hope that we, as a club, are encouraging newcomers and new members by allowing input and contribution to the decision-making processes of putting on a show as a way to develop the “new” generation of show chairs and club members.
10. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, what have you and your club members learned about putting on a dog show? What, if any, are the differences from previous years and how are you planning for the future? We have followed the requirements set forth by state and local authorities regarding these health issues for our shows in 2020 and 2021. We have found that exhibitors, volunteers, and judges alike work together to adjust to new and on-going challenges presented by the pandemic. Courtesy always works to smooth out difficulties. Our cluster fosters and actively promotes an “exhibitor friendly” atmosphere, and we all work hard to make our shows a great experience for all