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Westminster Preliminary Recap

By Amy Fernandez

So here’s a look at day one of Westminster 143. My takeaway impression is yes, indeed, if you build it they will come. It took a few years in this case, but this show is firing on all cylinders.

Unfortunately, some last minute winter revenge hit the show Tuesday but other than that, it’s actually been quite mild for this time of year. That may partly explain the buzzing scene at the Piers. Both Saturday and Monday, the place was mobbed. It conjured images of the good old pre-Pier experience. Packed crowds, long lines everywhere, and a rough time getting a good look at anything. According to my nameless (somewhat paranoid) inside sources, by midday Monday the gate was already up 3000 over last year. So, yes, it took awhile but those long awaited dog show fans eventually showed up.

The main show has been over on 12thAvenue for several years and it’s not like the west side midtown has suddenly become more accessible. Which leaves just one other explanation -dog shows are on the rebound! The fact that the entry maxed out was an encouraging sign, but that has never been the main story of Westminster. Their legend was built on its mystifying ability to seamlessly cross that expert/fan divide and create a comprehensively appealing experience.

We were starting to love the luxury of those long, empty halls, miles of grooming space and no lines for anything. But those days are over. Westminster fandom has kicked into gear, which for the club is obviously welcome news

On the other hand, this venue is designed to accommodate high volume traffic and the club had years to prep for this onslaught.

The dreadful pier to pier transit situation was the same as ever, actually worse for a couple hours when one of the elevators conked out. A much bigger issue was the counterintuitive revision to this year’s crowd flow protocol, which eliminated the exhibitor only traffic lanes to and from rings.  The rationale for this remains a mystery but it was not going down well. Even less popular was the truly horrifying shuttle bus situation. Now, as I said, Westminster has had years to debug this shuttle situation. I can’t say that it’s worse than the year Uber drivers managed to mow down two pedestrians, but by mid-afternoon significant groups of spectators were hanging around waiting outdoors in the cold. The few buses that did arrive were reserved for exhibitors. Just like years past, the security crew was left to their own devices and had to improv arrangements for crowd control and safety.  After talking to people at the head of the line and discovering that some had already waited almost 30 minutes with no bus in sight, I opted for the two-mile hike to the subway (and probably got home before they did).

The dedicated vendor space over at Pier 94 was dominated by Westminster’s brand marketing. Except for the prices, it reminded me of an Old Navy Fourth of July Sale with long lines and five registers going nonstop. Otherwise, the offerings were pretty sterile. Most of those small, quirky, artisanal vendors that made the Westminster buying experience so incomparable have been priced out of the place. At least Cherrybrook was there and situated well outside the commercial zone.

I heard plenty of stories about 17 hour plane trips, snarled midtown traffic, and overpriced hotels but no one seemed to regret being here.  It’s Westminster. It’s the world’s greatest dog show.



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Posted by on Feb 13 2019. Filed under Current Articles, The Buzz, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • June 2020