Mary Ellen Meyer has been a member of the Waukesha Kennel Club since 1966. She’s served on the board and has chaired various committees, helping with the club’s show over the years.
- What is the name of your show/cluster? Mary Ellen Meyer: We are the Waukesha Kennel Club Summer Splash and the centerpiece of FIVE days of shows. This year, 2021, was our 60th Anniversary!
- Where are your shows held? When? Mary Ellen Meyer: We are the last weekend in July. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are held at the Waukesha County Exposition Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Friday is the Combined Specialties. Our All-Breed shows are on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, we hold Obedience and Rally Trials all three days, as well as Fast CAT and NADD Dock Diving.
- Can you please provide a brief history of your club? Mary Ellen Meyer: The club got its start when the County Agricultural Agent decided that a dog exhibit would make a good attraction for the county fair. He contacted Al and Esme Treen, and they found 28 champions in the county; and that is how we began. That meeting was the start of the Waukesha Kennel Club. Esme Treen wrote a history commemorating the First 25 Years, which we proudly published in the 2021 catalog.
- How are the following aspects accommodated at your show/cluster: Parking; Grooming; Bathing; Hospitality; Vendors; Public Education? Mary Ellen Meyer: The Expo has two large parking lots, and club members and family work the gate. There is a minimal per vehicle parking fee, and exhibitors can purchase a three-day pass. RV parking is by reservation and is handled by the Expo Center staff. This year, there were 135 spaces; reservations opened in mid-April. We are proud of our hardworking vendor chair and the range of vendors, most of whom return each year; vendor booths are both inside and out. Grooming is by reservation inside the building; this year we added outside tents. We do have electrical hookups and onsite bathing. Our dedicated hospitality chair has served for several years and works closely with the Expo staff to select the best options from their approved list of food vendors. For many years, we have offered a family dog series where members covered a range of topic as well as a Meet The Breeds. We produce a Breed and Services directory, which is available to the public and to exhibitors at the show. This is then mailed to dog-related businesses, clinics, and groomers. Vendors, those placing an ad or breed vignette in the catalog, specialty clubs, individual breeders, and club members are listed in the directory.
- Does your show/cluster offer the National Owner-Handled Series? Junior Showmanship? 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy? Best Bred-By? Specialties? Supported Entries? Mary Ellen Meyer: Yes. This year, we also offered the very popular Pee Wee competition. In addition to the regular Junior Showmanship classes, we host the Wisconsin Junior Showmanship and Scholarship competition, FSS, and health clinics. And we held a sanctioned All-Breed Match on Friday afternoon.
- How are judging panels decided? Who stewards at your show(s)/cluster? Mary Ellen Meyer: We have a judge selection committee consisting of the Show Chair, Assistant Show Chair, and three members of the club. The members will serve three-year rotating non-renewable terms. The committee solicits recommendations from our membership and works closely with the specialty clubs. We are fortunate to have a long-serving Chief Ring Steward who manages to smile and make it look easy. The Obedience and Rally Chair, and Assistant, recruit those stewards and have developed a solid core group.
- Are Breed Seminars and Judges Education offered? Mary Ellen Meyer: Yes, in normal times, and they are well received. We are looking forward to resuming them. This year, we were able to host a Judging Juniors seminar.
- How are your show(s)/cluster promoted? TV? Radio? Print Media? Social Media? Mary Ellen Meyer: We have used billboards, local print media, and the ever-expanding social media. Our particular weekend is event-rich in southeastern Wisconsin, and there is lots of competition for media coverage. We are looking forward to expanding our promotional presence with the guidance of a member with experience in event marketing.
- What are some of the challenges that you’ve had to face as show/cluster chair? Mary Ellen Meyer: Some of the biggest challenges as show chair are getting people to chair committees, organizing all of the events, and having a great group of people you can work with. It is important that everyone feels like they are a part of the process, and it is important to listen to your workers as they give ideas for changing and improving the process.
- In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, what have you and your club members learned about putting on a dog show? Mary Ellen Meyer: What, if any, are the differences from previous years and how are you planning for the future? In the wake of the COVID pandemic, all clubs have had to work with their county and state regarding the ever-changing rules. Adjustments needed to be made as to how we all handle ring procedures, use of blow dryers, and people in buildings.