AKC Canine Good Citizen: Florida State Fair

By Dr. Mary Burch, AKC Canine Good Citizen director When it comes to educating the public...

By Dr. Mary Burch, AKC Canine Good Citizen director

When it comes to educating the public about purebred dogs, the annual Florida State Fair is one of this country's best-kept secrets. Held each year in Tampa, Fla., this year's fair spanned nearly a two-week period from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18.

The fair provides a salute to the state's best in agriculture, industry, entertainment and achievement. Excitement is in the air all over the fairgrounds. There are hot dogs, corn dogs, and, yes, purebred dogs.

Thanks to dog fancier Hughey Davis, who started the Purebred Dogs exhibit nearly a decade ago, the fair now has 12 full days of dog training demos, AKC public education booths, and Meet-the-Breeds booths. Tampa area trainers Karen Vance and Peggy Manker assists Davis with coordinating the dedicated purebred dog owners who volunteer to staff the Purebred Dogs building every day.

This year, the AKC CGC Department developed a booth that showcased CGC, Rally, Obedience and Agility training.

"This event has an astounding impact when it comes to reaching the general public," said AKC CGC Director Dr. Mary Burch. "During the course of the fair, 500,000 people visit the exhibits; 20,000 people a day visit the Purebred Dogs Exhibit and learn about our AKC programs and what responsible dog ownership is all about."

Tim Golden and his son, Andrew, along with Andrew's Cardigan Welsh Corgi, "Bandit," were among members who staffed the booth for the Brandon Florida Kennel Club Inc. The club worked with AKC Public Education Director Larry Sorenson to select educational materials for their attractive, informative fair booth.

"We really enjoy doing this," said Golden. "It is truly rewarding when you know a lot of people came to the booth and learned something about the care and training that all dogs need. Through events like this one, we know we are starting to make a difference."