BLACKPOOL Canine Society is to reduce entry fees at next year’s show for hound, gundog, working and pastoral breeds.
These were the groups scheduled for the two days of the show which had to be cancelled.
Blackpool had to be abandoned for the second time in four years, this time due to torrential rain.The Crown Fields showground was lashed by downpours on the first day, with as much falling in 24 hours as would normally be recorded in the whole of June. It caused widespread flooding in the area, and secretary Steve Hall and the committee made the decision to cancel the event at 6.15pm.
In 2008 winds of up to 80mph left several people injured and ripped up tents. At the recent show hundreds of vehicles were stranded in a quagmire and the rings quickly turned to mud.
Shortly afterwards Mr Hall said that entry fees would not be refunded to exhibitors who were unable to show, due to the cost of putting on the event in addition to the society now having to foot a £30,000 repair bill. This infuriated some, and led to Mr Hall being subjected to hostile phone calls and letters.
This week he spoke exclusively to DOG WORLD, explaining the situation and revealing next year’s fee reduction. Describing how much it cost to put on the show he said cancelling it meant there could be no refunds from the providers of various facilities, and that the cost of ‘full cancellation’ insurance, if it was taken out, would have to be passed on to exhibitors, adding possibly £5 to each entry fee.
However, as the pay-out would be in the region of £200,000, Mr Hall said he understood no underwriter would be prepared to guarantee it.
Cancellation of the show had prompted ‘a very small minority’ to verbally abuse his family, he said, and people had sworn down the phone at him and staff from Fosse Data. He also received a letter from a man saying the committee should be ashamed. Mr Hall replied by inviting the man to help set up the show next year.
"The society is offering an open invitation to three people/exhibitors, or anyone who thinks they can do better or at least contribute to the build-up of our next show,” he said. "We will pay for their accommodation starting on Sunday June 16, 2013. This will at least give these candidates a different view of the amount of work that goes into these shows, and maybe a better understanding of the difficulties we encounter.”
He thanked all the people who struggled with the elements to set up the show and keep it running as long as it did, and said he had been humbled by the generosity of ‘top judges’ who had refused to claim expenses. One senior judge donated £100 for the ‘mopping-up fund’. Another ran out of the ring at Windsor ch show to offer money to help.
The Kennel Club said that the cancellation of the show was due to be considered by its Shows Executive Sub-Committee on Wednesday and will then be discussed by the General Committee in September.
Thanks for your understanding, says secretary of Blackpool
The statement from Steve Hall, writing for and on behalf of the Blackpool committee:
"First of all I would like to record my gratitude and sincere appreciation to all the dedicated workers who braved the unprecedented weather conditions we experienced at this year’s show. Without these volunteers there would be no show. To arrive at a show to exhibit in these conditions is not good, but to actually stand there outside all day is total dedication.
"I must also give more than a mention to my committee who give up ten days every year to put on a show for the exhibitors. Can I remind you that most of them are in gainful employment, so while they’re not working during that period they actually lose money to give you a show – on average about £700.
"We must not forget the trade stands. This year has been a particularly bad year for all businesses, in particular these dog trade standholders who year on year give shows their support, and it is now time we reciprocated their support and loyalty.
"I have been extremely humbled by the generosity of our top judges who have refused to claim any expenses. One of our senior hound judges sent the society a cheque for £100 for our ‘mopping-up fund’; another rushed out of the ring at Windsor to offer me an amount of money to help us get through.
"I have been truly and absolutely overwhelmed by the support of real dog exhibitors who sent hundreds of cards and letters, even from Facebook. For example, I received a card with a cheque for £50 and these are the words that were enclosed, ‘Dear Steve and committee, please find enclosed a cheque for £50 which would have been my entry for 2012. Having a young puppy this year I was not able to enter.
‘Although I now live in Dumfries, for 20 years my home was in Euxton and I have always exhibited and stewarded for my local show. It is still a favourite on my calendar and I was sorry to miss this year. After 2008 – yes I was there! – you have had all the bad luck, more than your share, so I just wanted to show my support, thank the committee for its hard work and say see you next year’.
"These are the things that inspire me to carry on. At this present time, due to this recent event, I have nothing but admiration and respect for 98 per cent of these dedicated dog exhibitors who appreciate the hard work put in by others to try to hold a show for you, come hail, rain or shine.
"I felt proud to be part of these hard-core exhibitors who turned up on the Friday and continued, regardless of these atrocious conditions, which shows true camaraderie and a Dunkirk spirit in a situation that no one could foresee.
"I would now like to explain a little about the expenses entailed in holding a show of this magnitude. Quite rightly exhibitors expect much better facilities today than when I started some 40 years ago; that is not being unreasonable. However, these better facilities don’t come cheap, and unfortunately these facilities must be paid for in advance. If a show has to be cancelled for any reason there is no refunds or discounts from the suppliers of these services.
"Tenting cost £60,000, benching £33,000, printing £30,000, postage £4,000, security £2,250, car park £6,300, cleaners and litter pickers £3,800, rubbish skips £1,400, toilets £12,000, hotel £6,475, food £6,000, stewards £1,250. generator £880, diesel £800, plastic flooring £3,000, Kennel Club licence £2,380, public liability insurance £1,200, rosettes £600, prize cards £600, vet/doctor/British Red Cross, flowers £1,740, golf buggies £650, ground worker wages £3,000, road safety services £1,680, miscellaneous items £5,000. Then along comes the dreaded VAT man £35,200.
"As you can see, there’s not much, if anything at all, after what has been paid out.
"Recently I was given a catalogue from the Blackpool 1939 show and in it was an advertisement for the Hilton Hotel (12/6d B&B and dinner) which today would cost at least £120 if not more, Prize money was first £2, second £1 and third ten shillings. The shock came when it was 10/6d to enter! That would equate to around £90 in today’s money. Seventy-three years later the entry fee is £24, and I’m sure the facilities are now much better, if not the weather. I think this is food for thought? I am not trying to justify our rule 38 (cancellation or abandonment); all I am trying to do is explain the situation by giving you the facts on how much everything has cost and what has already been paid by the society.
"But now we come to the ‘full cancellation insurance’. General championship shows could not afford to pay for this type of insurance without passing it on to the exhibitor, maybe another £4 or £5 on the entry fees. That is what would happen. Would you be prepared to pay about £30 per dog with a guarantee that if, in the event it was cancelled, you would get your entry fee back? This comes at a price, as you can see from the figures above. Total full cancellation would require a pay-out by an insurance company of about £200,000. I have been told by an expert in insurance, given the weather at present in this country, that you would not get any underwriter to guarantee you insurance again once you make a claim for full cancellation of an event of this size. No insurance! No show! Is that what exhibitors want?
"Now we come to the sad part of this scenario. There is a very small minority which thinks everything revolves around them, and because they have paid their money that gives them the right to verbally abuse my family and I on the phone. This handful of exhibitors swear at you down the phone, and I have been informed that this is also the case with our printers, Fosse Data.
"We do not deserve this sort of treatment and I think it is uncalled for. It costs nothing to be civil; in my opinion the dog game could well do without this type of exhibitor.
"I had a letter from a gentleman saying that we should be ashamed of ourselves. I replied asking him why we should be ashamed of ourselves, and invited him to come along next year and help us set up the event. I have yet to receive his reply.
"The society is offering an open invitation to three people/exhibitors, or anyone who thinks they can do better or at least contribute to the build-up of our next show. We will pay for their accommodation starting on Sunday June 16, 2013. This will at least give these candidates a different view of the amount of work that goes into these shows, and maybe a better understanding of the difficulties we encounter.
"Until our accounts are finalised we cannot make any final decision, however the committee can confirm there will be a reduced entry fee for hound, gundog, working and pastoral breeds at next year’s show. As you can see from our expenditure there is nothing left; we have yet to face a massive bill for the repair of the ground and roads which are destroyed – this, I’m led to believe – could be in the region £30,000 plus.
"In conclusion, we do appreciate the patience of the vast majority of exhibitors who understand the task we face in clearing up the damage and the problems we encountered on the day from something beyond anyone’s control. Their forbearance and understanding is truly appreciated by this committee.”