Now that your club has decided to have your show, what is next? Who do you need to contact to make sure you can have your show? Do you really need approval? How do you make your show safe? Finally, how do you enforce your rules, policies, protocols and guidelines during the show?
In my previous letter, I’d mentioned that you will need to work with the government. For my clubs’ shows in July, I was having problems getting the Governor’s Office to respond. After multiple attempts, I figured I needed to go about this in a different way. I sent an email to the three commissioners of the county where my shows are located. I received a positive response and am now working with them. My email contained everything we were planning for the shows and I believe the best way to share the information with you all is to share the email:
My name is Philip Boyce and I manage the Mountain Laurel Cluster Dog Shows at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds every year during the 30th week of the year. This year, that falls on July 23-26.
The Mountain Laurel Cluster are dogs shows put on by the Lackawanna Kennel Club, Bald Eagle Kennel Club, and Williamsport Dog Training Club. We also host Specialty Shows for the Keystone Cocker Spaniel Club and Delaware Valley German Wirehaired Pointer Club as well as a Supported Entry by the Brandywine English Setter Club. These shows are licensed and approved by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
We have worked non-stop since shows stopped in March to develop a set of protocols, safety measures, rules and procedures for the Cluster, along with the AKC providing guidelines to having shows for clubs and also for judges, which ended up being right in line with each other.
With the state’s latest changes to the reopening plan and limiting events in Green Phase, I am assuming we will need to obtain an exemption from the state. However, after multiple attempts, I have been unable to get a response from the Governor’s Office. I determined it would be best to contact you all so we can work with the county to make sure of what we need to do in order to have the shows in July. I would like to keep an open line of communication, so we can share information back and forth work together to make a well-thought-out and informed decision on the shows.
I want to make sure I explain everything we are planning on doing with the shows regarding safety measures so you all understand why I feel we should be allowed to hold the event. If you have any questions, need clarification or anything, I am available via email, cell, text or messenger. My contact information is below in the signature.
Some of the measures we are planning are open to evolve and may be amended or removed based on the situation at the time of the shows:
- The shows/event will be closed to the general public. Anyone attending the shows must either be an owner, exhibitor, handler, handler assistant, judge, club member, hired professional (photo, video, superintendent, steward, etc.) Any family member or friend attending the show must enter with an owner or handler of the dog (first time entering) and get an access pass. General public will not be allowed on the grounds (to the best we can control) and, if found in a building, will be politely and professionally escorted off the premises.
- Everyone on the grounds, including event members, judges, professionals, all exhibitors, owners, handlers, assistants, friends and family must sign a Covid-19 waiver. Everyone will need an access pass to get into buildings and tents; passes will be made available by filling out and signing a Covid-19 waiver. (I will even be signing one). I am also asking the fairgrounds staff to sign them. Basically, if you are on the grounds you need a pass; to get the pass you must sign the waiver.
- Masks will be required in all buildings at all times. Masks (surgical style) will be provided to all people working the shows. Exhibitors, owners, breeders, handlers, etc., will be required to provide their own masks. We will have extra, if needed.
- The shows usually have conformation, obedience and rally events. There are usually eight rings and crating/grooming areas in two buildings combined, with four rings with crating for obedience and rally in the second building. When looking at having the event we wanted to provide it in a safe environment for all and, after careful consideration, we canceled obedience and rally and will only offer conformation to ensure we can best practice social distancing.
- The rings (which will have separate in and out entrances) will be spread out between the three buildings instead of two, and there will be no general grooming areas in the building. No hair dryers or forced air dryers will be allowed in buildings at any time. We will have staging areas next to each ring along with ringside crating areas. Crates are only allowed in the crating area 15 minutes before and after breed judging. This will allow handlers and exhibitors with multiple dogs to be able to stage them since there is no permanent indoor setup areas. >
- If we get a bigger entry that requires more than nine rings we will add rings outside and bring in additional judges and staff as needed, all while adhering to social distancing, wearing masks and other safety measures.
- Each and every ring will be marked every six (6) feet so the exhibitors and judges know the proper amount of spacing needed between dogs.
- We work with Site Control, a company that helps provide building and grounds management and security. They carry insurance, have specific industry training for the services they provide, know the dog show world, and are a huge asset with enforcing or implementing policies, etc.
- We will have signs throughout the buildings and fairgrounds to help with reminding people to wear their masks and practice social distancing.
- Every entrance in or out of the buildings will have hand sanitizer stations with signage. Judges will have hand sanitizer and will be required to sanitize their hands after every dog. There will also be random stations throughout the buildings and outdoor rings.
- Special attractions like Puppy Groups and Veteran Groups have been canceled.
- Any special attractions that we normally have, like a free BBQ dinner and ice cream social, will be adapted and changed to make them safer: No BBQ dinner, but a box dinner; no sundae bar, but pre-packaged ice cream treats.
- We will go through every step of the show and make sure we’ve covered everything needed (i.e., a cleaning company cleans the bathrooms and showers according to CDC and OSHA guidelines).
- We set an opening date for entries this year of June 24 with a closing date of July 8. We plan on making a tentative go/no go announcement on June 23 with a final decision on July 1.
- The food service provider will adhere to the state public health guidelines for Covid-19 and all other state health regulations on food service. We have thought outside the box on this one and will minimize human-to-human contact when serving food.
I am sure there are more items that need to be ironed out. However, the biggest thing to remember is that we are putting our best foot forward to provide these shows while providing them in the safest way possible, minimizing human-to-human contact, and adhering to CDC and PA Covid-19 guidelines.
Here are links to the AKC’s suggestions to clubs and to judges:
Judges are Section 6 in the above link.
I look forward to hearing back from you all and working with the county in order to be able to have this event.
Thank you for your time,
2nd Vice President
Mountain Laurel Cluster LLC
Chairman, Judge’s Selection & Assignment Committee
Show Chairman – Lackawanna Kennel Club
Board Member – Lackawanna Kennel Club
Professional Handler – padoghandlers.com
Breeder of Weimaraners – edgefieldkennels.com
The commissioners are now helping us get state approval for the event. They have provided information that we would never have heard of without reaching out to them, and this is allowing us to move forward. One key note: Closing shows to the general public makes you a Non-Spectator Sport/Event. This, at least in Pennsylvania, is a very important item to be able to move forward with the shows.
We are now working on getting the final approval, but we can move forward without it. We have US House of Representatives for the local district on board, we have a State Senator on board, we have the County Commissioners on board and, most importantly, we have the Fairgrounds on board. I am continuing to work with Site Control, the Fairgrounds, RV/prime parking manager and others to develop our final plan, rules, procedures, etc. Vendors will be at the shows, but they will be more supply or service vendors focused on sales to exhibitors and show people and not the public. We are also working on finalizing how to deal with some of the procedural stuff, like providing armbands and entry into the building. We will announce that in our Judging Program.
We’ve decided to have some building doors designated as entrances only and others as exits only. This will help with social distancing and controlling the flow of everything.
One thing we are really still figuring out is discipline. I will be contacting the AKC for guidance on violations of Covid-19 safety measures and what we are allowed to do and what we aren’t in terms of a zero tolerance policy.
We need to get back to shows. We need to be strong in our convictions to work through the hard times and not hang up the towel because something didn’t go our way. Remember, “no” is not “no” until they tell you “no” three times. We also have to do the best we can to provide the shows in the safest manner possible. So please have your shows, but adapt the way they are run in order to keep them safe. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to call, email, message or text. I am here to help. I am already helping a handful of all-breed shows and one national specialty. I also started a group on Facebook called Dog Show Chairmen Consulting Group (DSCCG).
We can do this, but we need clubs to stop canceling their shows and work through the problems they are facing no matter how challenging or impossible they may seem. May the fancy rise again!