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The March Madness Cluster

By Amy Fernandez

The Edison shows have been a local favorite for years. The centerpiece of the weekend, New Brunswick on Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, and Bronx on Sunday the 26th drew reasonably good entries with 1395 on Friday, 1696 on Saturday and 1557 Sunday.  Pretty good, but not like the old days.

Like much of life, Covid scrambled the formula. A blitz of canceled and rescheduled shows rippled through the sport and it’s not over yet. Westminster is the prime example of this catastrophic lingering effect. Over decades, this Monday-Tuesday show evolved into two non-stop weeks of critical events. All that collapsed overnight and at this point who knows if or when any of it will return. The combined English, Irish and Gordon Setter specialties is far from the only breed clubs that were cut adrift when Westminster abruptly changed course, relocating their show to Tarrytown and now to Flushing Meadow Park. With dwindling options for affordable indoor sites, Edison has become the go-to solution for many clubs.

The New Jersey Convention Center is a fabulous location, right off the highway with adequate parking and a decent amount of space for setup and grooming. Marjorie Martorella has been New Brunswick’s show chair since 1976–along with her celebrated career as a judge and breeder. New Brunswick had relocated several times before David Kirkland discovered the New Jersey Convention Center. It’s very nice and also costs $26,000 per day.

That price tag does create some pressure to ensure good entries. Marjorie says, “Personally, I thought this year’s judging panel was among the best, but I was still surprised to hear that from several handlers. That was unexpected.” Yeah, but it makes a difference. Even so, Marjorie is realistic.  “If they don’t see the possibility of a major, they don’t show up. Why waste your money? And from my personal perspective, you want a win to be meaningful.” She concedes that, “Clubs really struggle with judging panels and the wrong choices can be disastrous. We had almost 700 dogs in the Sporting Group this year. A lot of new Setter people came to Edison for the first time to support the specialties.”

That included the English Setter Club of New England, the Eastern Irish Setter Association, the Hudson Valley English Setter Club, the Tartan Gordon Setter Club, the English Setter Association of America, the Gordon Setter Club of America and the Irish Setter Club of Long Island.

The entire weekend had a welcoming, friendly vibe. “We had so much food,” Marjorie adds. She continues by saying, “My birthday was Thursday and we shared the cake with everyone. Then we put out the ice cream.” Diets went out the window that weekend! Specialty clubs rolled out banquets for their members and invited everyone to share their food. “The Pointer people had so much extra food and we just kept giving out to the exhibitors.”

But they came for majors, not cake. That started Thursday night. No one feels like showing until 11-12 PM after a long day, and then facing a very long weekend ahead. But these are dog people–they have priorities.  Thursday night’s lineup included the Delaware Valley Toy Dog Fanciers, the Big Apple Sporting Group club, the Big Apple Working Group club, the Herding Group Association of New Jersey and the Non-Sporting Association of the Garden State. Over the weekend Edison hosted specialties for Springers, Pekingese, Boxers, Papillon, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Shelties and Boston Terriers. That support made a difference. That added up to 22 specialties and 28 supported entries.

Possibly, Edison’s biggest draw is the on-site health clinics. As Marjorie notes, “They love Blue Ridge Imaging. He was busy every day for all four days. The Dalmatian Club also ran a CERF clinic on Sunday, which was packed.” The weekend also featured lots of interesting vendors. Much of it wasn’t dog-related, but survival comes down to creative marketing. And it’s working.

Non-regular classes translate into extra work for clubs but both Bronx and New Brunswick included NOHS competition as well as the Supreme Specialty Challenge. Judged early Sunday afternoon, all specialty winners are invited to challenge under an unannounced judge. This year’s big reveal was none other than Dennis Sprung. Marjorie explains, “He has been a longtime member of Bronx. He was there last year he and thought this class was a great idea, so I thought, ‘Okay, ask him’. He really enjoyed it.”

Overall, this was what we hope for when we sacrifice a weekend of precious time to show our dogs. Bronx and New Brunswick deserve our thanks for keeping the ship afloat. And Marjorie would like to emphasize the fact that this doesn’t happen by accident. “After enduring no shows for two years, people need to realize that we must contribute if we want this sport to continue.” Hopefully CC readers will pay attention to her remarks.

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Posted by on Mar 31 2023. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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