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Morris & Essex Kennel Club Art Show Offering $1000 “Best in Show” Prize

Every five years, a very special dog show appears, and we are transported to a gentler time honoring the heritage of one of the dog show world’s most devoted benefactors and the Show’s founder, Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge. 

Somerset, NJ – For the first time in its long and illustrious history, the Morris and Essex Kennel Club will be offering a $1,000 “Best in Show” prize at its second juried fine arts competition open to dog artists throughout the world celebrating the purebred dog and the spirit of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club Dog Show at its October 1, 2015 show to be held in Colonial Park, Somerset, NJ, M&E Kennel Club President Wayne Ferguson announced today.

For only the second time in its history, the 2015 M&E Kennel Club Dog Show will feature a Juried Fine Art Show celebrating the purebred dog and the spirit of the Morris and Essex Kennel Club Dog Show, judged by William Secord of the world-renowned William Secord Gallery, NYC.  Mr. Secord is recognized as the world authority on nineteenth century dog painting as well as the founding director of The Dog Museum of America.

“Every five years, starting in the year 2000, the elegance, glamour, style and high level of judging  quality of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s original dog show held on her polo fields is brought back to life for a new generation,” Mr. Ferguson added.   “Because ours is such a special show, requiring years of careful planning, it is eagerly anticipated once every five years.  In 2010, the last time the Morris and Essex show was held, more than 3,090 entries of the world’s finest show dogs competed for the lofty title of Best in Show. Over 4,000 are anticipated for the 2015 show.  The Art Show adds so much to this very special dog show and we are thrilled to have Mr. Secord judging once again and excited to see, and feature, works by the world’s talented dog artists.”

One winner will be selected from each of the seven dog show groups (Sporting, Working, Herding, Non-Sporting, Toy, Terrier, and Hound) with each Group Winner receiving an invitation to the elegant Judges’ Dinner preceding the Dog Show on the evening of September 30 as well as a commemorative M&E rosette. “Best in Show” will be selected by Mr. Secord and presented by both Mr. Secord and M&E Art Show Chair Debra Lampert-Rudman with a $1,000 check during the Judges’ Dinner proceedings.

All winning artworks will be displayed at both the Judges’ Dinner and in a tented place of honor on the outdoor show grounds at Colonial Park, Somerset, NJ on October 1, 2015. In addition, all Art Show entries, as well as the Group winning artwork, will be displayed in a virtual gallery on the Morris and Essex Kennel Club website following the October 1 show and through December 1, 2015.

For complete details and Art Show Prospectus email 


“The Dog Fancier of the Century”

Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William Rockefeller and niece of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was born into a privileged life during America’s “Gilded Age”.  Geraldine grew up with a strong love of dogs, art, and a spirit of philanthropy.   On April 18, 1907, Geraldine married Marcellus Hartley Dodge and the couple were regarded as the richest young couple in America.

Geraldine’s interest in dog breeding led her to create Giralda Farms Kennels in Madison, New Jersey; known both nationally and internationally as the home of the finest German Shepherds, Pointers, and English Cocker Spaniels.  In fact, Mrs. Dodge is credited as the architect of the separation of the breeds now known as the American and English cocker spaniels.  Between 1937 and 1942, the English cocker spaniel became her most successful breed.  And, in 1942 she published a book entitled The English Cocker Spaniel in America.

Giralda Farms covered almost four acres and housed up to 150 dogs in palatial facilities with several resident kennel men.  More than 200 Giralda Farms dogs were Best in Show winners leading Mrs. Dodge to be known as the “first lady of dogdom” and “the dog fancier of the century”.   According to the Westminster Kennel Club website, in 1933, Mrs. M. Hartley Dodge became the first woman to officiate as the sole judge for Best In Show at its illustrious dog show.

Mrs. Dodge founded the M&E Kennel Club in 1927 naming it after the two New Jersey counties from which its committed organizers and kennel club members came: Morris and Essex counties, just outside of New York City.  Her grand outdoor dog shows held on her estate were highlights of not only the dog show world but the New York social world from 1927 until 1957. Women and men were dressed to the “nines” and it was the place to be seen.

The M&E Revival

In 1996, Wayne Ferguson, Cherrybrook founder and well-known dog world philanthropist, discovered the M&E Kennel Club archives while attending a Board meeting at St Hubert’s Giralda.  Mr. Ferguson was so enchanted by the magic of the 30-year reign of Mrs. Dodge’s show that he gathered a group of the 21st Century’s “who’s who” in dogs to revive the elegance of the bygone era.  Four years later, the first M&E show was held near the grounds of the original show.

Thanks largely to M&E Club President and Show Committee Chairman Wayne Ferguson’s endeavors, and those of a remarkable and highly skilled Show Committee, including Connie Butherus, David Helming, and many others; every five years Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s legendary dog show once again springs to life.

In the years between shows, elaborate plans are made, show site drawings are debated, and grass is painstakingly treated and tended to assure perfection on show day.  On the 2015 dog show scene, M&E is considered the place to be seen with many people planning their wardrobes – especially hats – well in advance!

The M&E outdoor show features huge Renaissance tents flying the club’s orange and navy blue banners and housing 30 rings with 80 of the American Kennel Club’s finest breed judges nearly 100 breed will hold National, Regional, and State-wide specialties as well as Supported Entries.  Once again, as was tradition during Mrs. Dodge’s era, entries and judges are expected from around the world.  Only conformation judging will be held, as was customary in Mrs. Dodge’s era as well.

Hospitality and gentility are two of many features separating M&E from other outdoor shows.  Picture elaborate flower displays, raised specially-designed platforms for Group winners, and imagine an outdoor dog show with no generators and noise, except the chirping of birds and the voice of the announcer.  The M&E Show Committee accords tens of thousands of dollars for specially designed underground wiring to accommodate blow dryers, fans, grooming and other equipment to eliminate noise and excessive heat.

At precisely noon, a lunch bell is rung, all judging stops.  Exhibitors are each presented with a scrumptious and beautifully designed “box lunch”, included as part of the entry fee.  During lunch hour, everyone dines; while in the judge’s tent, live classical music is played; linen and fine china displayed.

All spectators are invited to purchase delicious food and other items from an array of caterers and upscale vendors.  Limited edition collectible commemorative memorabilia may be purchased in the catalog tent.  Various charitable organizations, including Take the Lead – host of an Exhibitor Breakfast in the morning and fundraising Silent Auction throughout the day, the American Kennel Club, and St. Hubert’s, among others will be housed in a special tented area.

The sterling silver trophy display is like none seen at any other outdoor dog show and includes many very special historical pieces. In fact, the 2010 Premium List was 200 type-written pages to include the array of trophies, prizes, and programs and it is expected that the 2015 Premium List will be even larger.

A classic car display featuring stunning representatives from the 1930’s along with horses, carriages, and a dazzling array of Club and Show treasures and historical archives round off this one-of-a-kind dog show experience.

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Posted by on Nov 5 2014. Filed under Featured, The Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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