door Karl DonvilWEELDE 2018, 45th edition.
What a pity! After the big success of last year with 2083 entries, the number dropped dramatically to 1371! And that is really undeserved! The halls are so fantastic, large, free parking, enough space, what more do we need for a show? Some say it all becomes too expensive, more expensive than other shows. Maybe, but here the parking is included, while on most shows you have to pay extra. But in case you want to enter last minute it becomes very expensive indeed and if you are late to enter for whatever reason, you have to face high entry fees up to 61 EURO for the first dog. It is difficult to calculate the impact of a lower entry fee. If you can win 200 more entries if you drop the price with 10 EURO it still is not enough to cover the loss in entry-money. But it can result in 100 more entries as well as in 300 or 400 and then it pays off.
Weelde is the first show of the year, the first weekend after New Year. There were only two shows that same weekend, one was in Goteborg, Sweden but that had probably hardly an effect on this show. The other one was a show in Paris and that could have some more impact. But that does not explain the drop down with almost 35%. Last year this show was end of February and that is maybe a better explanation. First weekend after new year is right after a very expensive period that has a serious impact on the family budget. But what about the show of LKV Genk last year, the very first show of 2017, and the very same weekend. It was a record edition with over 2000 entries and it was only a CAC show! So this is maybe no excuse either! But... contrary to that show, this time there was Brussels, only 3 weeks earlier. So you have Santa Claus, Amsterdam Winner, Brussels double CAC show, Christmas, New Year and Weelde...no wonder you make choices.
Except for all these reasons I can think of only one more reason and that is the choice of the judges. Maybe some of them judged too often in the same area or for the same breeds notwithstanding their qualities, but even good judges are losing interest if they accept invitations too much and too often. Why is the FCI not having a database with all the judges and their agendas and breeds. That would be a big help for show committees. Now there are judges who accept every invitation they get, some have a fulltime job traveling all the time to all the show. Travel costs are refunded completely, some fee is given for each entered dog for them and they are hosted most of the time in nice and often expensive luxury hotels. Some judge for a living nor at least as a big compensation to a pension and they always are looking for invitations every weekend, year in year out. They want to be popular in order to attract as much dogs as possible. But that means also that they are very often too gentle in their verdicts. It is no secret that it is possible in some countries to buy judging licenses. That explains enough! But let me be clear, this is a general impression and this does not apply to the invited judges or this show in particular, it is a general opinion.
Weelde is a small place right to the border of the Netherlands and therefore it is natural that a lot of entries were from there. But I had the impression that there were also a good number of German entries too. Unfortunately there are lately no longer statistics about the entries in the catalog or the website. Impossible to tell how international this edition was. The modern way of entering for a dog show has lots of advantages, there is Doggle.com and there is Onlindogshows.com. The latter was the one that applied for this show. I went to look online to see if there were any statistics but just as in the printed catalog, there were none to be found. I tried also to find out about the current entry fees for the shows to come and compare them to this show that was said to be very expensive, but without a dog to enter there was not even a way to see what would be charged! That is not the way we promote our shows! How can we attract newcomers if they don't have a clue how much it costs to enter a dog, how much difference it is if you enter your dog early compared to last minute? This absolutely needs to be reconsidered! Those companies need to help promote the shows and win the interest of as much fanciers as possible! More and more organizers no longer distribute entry forms and in these digital times we can applaud this evolution, but what about newcomers if even on Onlinedogshows there is no way to find out how it works? Seen from the eyes of a dogshow-illiterate there is still a lot to be done because you will probably struggle seriously to find your way.
The halls are a little bit remote from everything. This out of use Nato base offers lots of opportunities, but heating and sanitary facilities need to be rented. It was however, rather chilly inside but not extreme. There will always be people who don't want to put on a pullover or fleece. We are not used in Belgium to have outdoor shows, we are only used to well heated warm halls. Maybe it would be better to make it a little warmer inside. If people complain they create a false impression of the show as a whole. Let's not forget that they paid a high entry fee and if this ads to their frustration it will not result in better statistics next year.
20 Judges were invited, only 5 of them for one day only. They represented 10 nationalities, 7 being from Belgium. It is clear that the committee had hoped for more entries per judge. The dogs/judging-day rate is only 39,2. On Saturday only Mr.Josef Hartich from Germany and Mrs. Monika Blaha had more than 60 entries, 70 and 63 respectively. Mrs. Blaha had a good entry on Sunday too, and with 63 she was the best scoring judge of the weekend. On Saturday she had 30 Australian Shepherds and on Sunday 33 Chinese Cresteds. Mr.Leos Jancik from the Czech Republic had 23 English Bulldogs and that resulted in 67 entries when including all his other breeds. 32 Rhodesian Ridgebacks and 19 Dalmatians helped Mr.Marco Lepasaar to have 65 entries in total on Sunday. Top scoring judge on Sunday was Mrs.Susan Kealy from Ireland. She judged a lot of companion breeds./ Her compatriot Mr.Liam Moran had 31 Labradors which is a good number, but he also had 23 Flat Coated Retrievers and that is a relatively very high score. Another ,well represented breed was the Irish Wolfhound with 17 specimen to be judged by Mrs.Anita Gielisse from the Netherlands.
Mrs.Myriam Vermeire was granted the honor place all the group winners. Only 9 of them showed up. Once more: "why place all and not only the 3 best like in all the sports disciplines!". Here 3rd Bis went to the multi BIS winner "Beardie Connections Kenji". It is clear that there are new stars on the firmament that compete for his crown. Kenji is 7 years already but is still entered a lot by his owner Otto Rinus from the Netherlands. He was beaten by American Staffordshire "Carmichael's Liar Liar Pants On Fire", an almost 3 years old bitch owned by Olaf Verhorevoort and Benny Cheek. He was entered to be judged by Mrs.Vermeire ,while the group was judged by Mr.Marco Lepasaar from Estonia. Only 10 were entered. Winning dog was a Shih Tzu named "Saffron Sherhy Dustin" owned by Dorien Van Slycken from Belgium. Saffron is a Russian import, bred by Irina Cherkasova and is a little over 3 years old. He was entered in Intermediate class for judge Siret Lepasaar from Estonia to compete with 18 others. Mr.Dirk Spruyt, husband of Mrs.Vermeire was the group judge.
Let us hope that next year the club will reconsider things, including the entry fee. The provisional judges list could already be found in the middle of the catalog and probably soon on www.kkk.be. Very important as well, the show will be in March, the weekend of the 16th-17th and one week after Crufts! Let's cross our fingers that there will be a lot more entries again! Help them make the difference, they deserve it.