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Morris & Essex Kennel Club Dog Show 2015 – The World’s Finest Outdoor Dog Show Dedicated to the Memory of M. Hartley Dodge, Jr.

By Debra Lampert-Rudman

“To reach a high standard of perfection requires painstaking effort. And once that standard has been established, it becomes increasingly difficult to raise it, periodically, to even higher planes. Yet such a thing has been happening, yearly, with the great Morris and Essex Kennel Club Show.”

Somerset, NJ – The quote above may have been penned by Arthur Frederick Jones in the July 1, 1937 edition of the American Kennel Gazette, but is equally true of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club show set for Thursday, October 1, 2015 at Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey, featuring an unprecedented 120 breeds holding National, Regional, and State-wide specialties as well as Supported Entries.

Every five years, starting in the year 2000, the elegance, glamour, style and high level of quality judging seen at Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s original dog show held on her polo fields is brought to life for a new generation.

At this year’s show, Best in Show will be judged by Mrs. Jane Forsyth.  The 2015 show is dedicated to the memory of M. Hartley Dodge, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Marcellus Hartley Dodge, Sr. and heir to the Remington-Rockefeller fortune.  The Dodge’s son tragically perished in a car accident in France on August 29, 1930; only months after graduating from Princeton University.  In his memory, Mrs. Dodge created many memorials in his name.

Of particular interest related to M&E, the M. Hartley Dodge, Jr. Memorial Trophy was a Sterling Silver trophy offered by Mr. and Mrs. Dodge and awarded in each breed for first in American-bred Dogs and Bitches classes from the 1930’s through the 1957 M&E Kennel Club dog shows. All of the Best of Breed trophies presented at the 2015 M&E show are replicas of this important trophy.

In its 1937 heyday, more than 50,000 dog-loving spectators descended upon sleepy Madison, New Jersey while 4,104 dogs were shown. In its 2005 incarnation, a total entry of 3,619 dogs were presented  in 160 different breeds or varieties with Ch. Rocky Tops Sundance Kid “Rufus”  garnering Best in Show honors.  In 2010, the last time the Morris and Essex show was held, more than 3,415 entries of the world’s finest show dogs competed for the lofty title of Best in Show with the two year old Pekingese Ch. Palacegarden Malachy “Malachy” selected by renowned judge Robert Forsyth at Mr. Forsyth’s final assignment before his retirement.   The 2010 M&E show went on to be awarded “Show of the Year” in 2011.

Proceeds of the 2010 show benefitted the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Take the Lead, and St Hubert’s Giralda (the current incarnation of the Madison, NJ animal shelter founded by Mrs. Dodge in the 1930’s).  A number of canine charitable organizations will once again receive donations from the proceeds of the 2015 Morris & Essex Kennel Club show.

Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

“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! Many exhibitors are reportedly shopping vintage shops both online and in a wide variety of cities on both coasts and internationally.

What to Expect on the Show Grounds in 2015

The M&E outdoor show features huge Renaissance tents flying the club’s orange and navy blue banners and housing 27 rings with 78 of the American Kennel Club’s finest breed judges.

An unprecedented 120 breeds will hold National, Regional, and State-wide specialties as well as Supported Entries.  An updated Judges List is available at http://www.morrisandessexkennelclub.org/2015-judges.html  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 their entry fee.  During lunch hour, everyone dines; while in the judge’s tent, live classical music is played; linen and fine china displayed.

For the second time in its history, the 2015 M&E KC Show will feature an Art Show juried once again by William Secord of the world-renowned William Secord Gallery, NYC.  New  this year: a $1000 Best in Show cash prize will be awarded at the Judges’ Dinner the night before the show.

All Art Show winning artwork will be displayed in a tent on the show grounds, depicting dog art from each of the 7 dog show groups. Each winner receives a rosette.

All spectators are invited to purchase delicious food and other items from an array of caterers and upscale vendors.

For the first time, the ultimate history of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club is available in a limited edition hardcover coffee table book. “The Golden Age of Dog Shows: Morris & Essex Kennel Club 1927-1957”  is currently available on the M&E website shop www.morrisandessexkennelclub.org

A book signing for this first-edition will be held on the show grounds with author Debra Lampert-Rudman and William Secord who wrote the book’s Foreword.  Highly detailed limited edition embroidered commemorative memorabilia including caps, aprons, totes, and other items 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  canine charitable organizations 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 the largest premium list ever compiled for a one-day dog show.

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.

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. 

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=81699

Posted by on Jun 23 2015. 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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