We’re Back ...
With Covid behind us and a new show site in hand, the Harvest Moon Classic Cluster — a marriage between Skyline Dog Fanciers and Del Valle Dog Club — was held this past week, four days at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California.
We have always been a Bay Area club, so going from the East Bay to the North Bay was a natural choice for us. We were rewarded with an excellent entry. (Who knew what it would be — assigning judges was much like flying blind with no idea of what each breed entry would be!) Happily, it all worked out ...
The new show site turned out to be a good one: It worked well and we learned a lot about how to utilize it more effectively next year. There is no substitute for experience. The fairgrounds have been kept up and improved, plenty of first-class washrooms, paved roads and parking lots. The grass has been reseeded, watered and mown for us; it still needs more upkeep, but that's for next year.
Walking in the main gate, exhibitors were greeted with a nice unloading loop, big impressive tents on one side for the outdoor rings, two buildings housing obedience and rally on the other side, and an eye-catching row of vendors in front of them. It was great to see so many vendors back! There is a large paved parking lot right across the street so parking is easy.
Our main building is larger than any we've had before, six good-sized rings and enough space for a lot of grooming on the other side, along with the superintendent and photograph areas. We tried reserved paid grooming spots this year, and it was a success. The floor in this building is dark and tape will not stick, so we couldn't mat the rings; they worked well for the first couple of days but obviously needed better footing as the days wore on. Next year we will have either artificial turf, putting green short, or indoor/outdoor carpeting, all of which will lighten up the space and provide better footing. Rest assured, this issue will be addressed for next year! Unloading for this building is accessed through another paved parking lot adjoining it — no schlepping all your stuff over dirt parking lots filled with potholes.
Our building was decorated with the banners made from the Heidi Martin custom artwork that has graced the covers of our premium lists, judging programs and catalogs all these many years. We added another this year: a drawing of our cluster coordinator, the late Linda Souza, pictured running on the beach with one of her beloved Wolfhounds. Linda chaired the cluster for the past six years after my retirement. It was never in our agreement that she would predecease me, something I'll be speaking to her about one day. Linda was loved by many, and missed by us all.
Our shows were also dedicated to the memory of Joe Ballard, a member of our hospitality team who logged many miles in his golf cart delivering to rings, and Bobby Paust, who helped in so many ways, with set-up, schlepping judges and with take-down. All three are dearly missed ...
We had four different food trucks on the grounds. Exhibitors were pleased with the options — nice to have choices and not just the usual fairgrounds fare. Our gourmet coffee booth did not show up, a permit problem apparently, something that will be addressed next year as, after all, we all need our coffee first thing in the morning.
The groups were strong, as were the Best in Show line-ups. We thank all our judges for coming and are thankful no one encountered transportation problems, something that has plagued many a show weekend of late. We were lucky with the weather, good dog-show fall weather. And if for some reason we have a rainy weekend in our future, there are plenty of buildings to move all rings indoors. With climate change, that is a comforting thought.
The members of Skyline and Del Valle have always worked well together, and this year was no exception. Many hands make light work, as they say. Our new show chairs, Ryan Horvath and Sandra Hickson, my assistants for many years, showed how well prepared they were for the large task at hand. I will not mention all the names of the committee heads, as I will surely miss someone , but each one did a great job, and the results were in evidence.
We had many, many compliments from exhibitors telling us they enjoyed the new grounds, and that they'll absolutely return next year.
We are definitely back and already looking forward to 2023, so mark your calendars for October 19 through 22, four days, same location in Santa Rosa, the heart of beautiful wine country with fall color on the vines.