Interview with Gail Miller Bisher, Westminster Kennel Club’s Director of Communications
The new location for the 2023 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is an interesting choice. Can you tell us about the decision to relocate next year’s show to Queens?
Gail Miller Bisher: The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been an NYC event for over 144 years until the COVID pandemic caused the events to be moved to Tarrytown. We are excited to be back in NYC, this time in Queens, at an incredible, world-renowned sports center.
What are some of the new site’s amenities that exhibitors will appreciate? Are there any drawbacks?
Gail Miller Bisher: The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has a strong NYC sports connection. The public is very familiar with the site, and the facility’s sheer size allows for a significant public education opportunity. We have room to expand our events, and on Saturday, we intend to do that; announcements are forthcoming.
Our sport needs to promote purpose-bred dogs and celebrate all they can do. At the USTA, we can share our messaging about purpose-bred dogs and the preservation breeders who produce them to a large audience with national media attention. We realize this is a new show site for everyone, and there will be many questions, but we will work to make everyone comfortable.
What should exhibitors expect to encounter at the new site? How should they prepare for traveling, parking, benching, and grooming?
Gail Miller Bisher: For those flying in, JFK and LaGuardia are very close to the show site. Driving will be typical for the NYC area, but in Queens, the roads and number of pedestrians are not as congested as in Manhattan.
Remember that if you stay in Manhattan or go into the city for a Broadway show, traveling between Queens and Manhattan can take 35 to 45 minutes.
The recommended hotels are listed on our website, and even if they usually don’t take dogs, these hotels are allowing them for Westminster exhibitors. Remember to request the WKC block when booking.
There will be two large grooming tents with electricity. Additional details regarding parking will be on the website westminsterkennelclub.org as they become available.
The new location has plenty of stadium seating to accommodate spectators. Was this part of Westminster’s reason for choosing the site?
Gail Miller Bisher: There will be seating at all competition rings. The incredible Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the Agility Finals, Juniors Finals, Groups, and Best in Show will be judged, has plenty of seating and a retractable roof. This facility hosts the nation’s top sporting events. It was built for spectators, championship-level competitions, and top competitors—a perfect place for WKC events.
Will the Masters Obedience and Masters Agility Finals still be part of Westminster 2023?
Gail Miller Bisher: This will be the 10th Anniversary of the Masters Agility Championship, which will once again kick off Westminster Week on Saturday, May 6, 2023. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate its tenth year and the dog & handler teams that make it such a fan favorite.
The Masters Obedience Championship is scheduled on Saturday so that our weekend spectators can see these incredible dogs perform at the highest level. New Yorkers love winners and dogs, and we want them to see the best.
What is your favorite thing about this new facility? The location? The stadium’s legacy in sports? The fact that the show will be back in New York City—well, sort of?
Gail Miller Bisher: As the WKC Communications Director, keeping purpose-bred dogs relevant is paramount. Therefore, it’s exciting to be back in NYC at a large facility where we can all delight New Yorkers with another fabulous canine celebration. Remember, these prestigious WKC events continue a historical tradition, but they also serve the Club and the Sport’s mission to educate the public.