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So many factors conspire against show-giving clubs that the variables can seem daunting, even up until the playing of The National Anthem. But the satisfaction of hosting a successful event can put all the challenges behind the committee, building optimism for next year’s shows. Finally, the Sacramento Valley Dog Fanciers Association (SVDFA) rediscovered that positive feeling after hosting a weekend that was, by all accounts, an overwhelming success.

The club has faced daunting set-backs over the three previous years, all due to circumstances that were beyond their control. Credit the club’s resilience and determination—and their ability to apply previous lessons—in crafting this year’s fun, Halloween-themed weekend, for exhibitors and their dogs.

Historically, the show is always held the final weekend in October, which means the primarily outdoors venue at the Dixon (CA) May Fairgrounds is at the mercy of the elements. In 2017, while the immediate area was not directly impacted by the devastating wildfires that struck in the Santa Rosa and Napa areas, the show weekend was canceled because the entire facility was used as a Medical Evacuation Site with armed security and tightly controlled access. Late October 2016 saw heavy rains and powerful winds, both leading up to and during the show, which mired the venue in fields of mud. Due to these conditions, the club needed to re-configure the RV parking and provide additional tenting for the protection and welfare of the dogs and exhibitors. Then, reaching back to 2015, the conditions were perfect—but water took over again when a water main broke on Friday followed by another on Saturday, which resulted in the rerouting of traffic through normal pedestrian areas along with the loss of bathroom facilities. With each of these year’s challenges, the show committee demonstrated its commitment to the exhibitors, the sport of dog shows, and the dogs themselves.

In 2017, the club held a well-attended meeting on the morning of what would have been the Sunday show and unanimously voted to refund 50% of entry fees—demonstrating their commitment to putting the participants first. In 2016, the club reacted to the adverse weather by hiring three people to assist exhibitors with unloading and loading of their dogs and equipment, providing flatbed golf carts to ease the transition from parking areas to rings. And in 2015, while not the most glamorous of investment, the club provided emergency portable toilets. With this string of recent challenges, SVDFA wanted 2018 to be very different from the past.

On the weekend of October 27 and 28, beginning with the full day of specialties on Friday the 26th and with favorable cooperation from the weather, their 50th and 51st shows were held—without any elemental challenges or set-backs, even under an almost-full moon! Along with the shows themselves, the club hosted events that engaged exhibitors beyond the show ring. This year, nine RVs participated in the “Haunted Rig” decorating contest, with the club footing the winners’ parking fees: first place drove off with free parking for the weekend and the runner-up had one night covered. There was no entry fee, just the guideline to “impress the judges!” On Saturday, after Best in Show, everyone was invited to haunt the main hall and enter the costume contest for a nominal fee, with proceeds going to the purchase of dog-sized oxygen masks to aid their state’s tireless firefighters. Both “darling” participants and “dubious” characters showed up for this great cause. A new addition this year was the AKC-sanctioned B match, held Friday evening. Before the match, all entrants had the option of one-on-one instruction time with a SVDFA-club member in the practice ring that ran for two hours before judging. The club tries to think outside the box for ways to attract, and keep, all exhibitors, experienced as well as new to the sport.

With the success of the 2018 event, the members of the Sacramento Valley Dog Fanciers Association are entertaining new ideas to enhance their show weekend and continue providing an engaging experience for both dogs and their people. The club is looking forward to seeing everyone in 2019!