Tampa Bay Kennel Club
Tampa Bay Kennel Club’s most recent dog shows generally have an entry of 2500 dogs, 20 licensed dog show judges, over 50 vendors of dog related items, 350 recreational vehicles, over 1000 cars per day. We have a catered lunch for the judges. It is usually held in January, on 50 acres that we own jointly with three other kennel clubs.
But let us go back in time to 1943 when Tampa Bay Kennel Club held their first show. The entries were $2.50. We had an entry of 224 dogs. We took two days to judge them and one judge did them all. The largest vehicle anyone had for transporting their dogs was a station wagon. There were no RV’s. There were no vendors. The show was held at Tampa University. The best in show trophy was a bushel of oranges. The largest entry was in Boston Terriers. The most ads in the catalog were from funeral homes. Dogs had to be examined by a veterinarian before entering the building.
In the fifties, we started holding our shows at Fort Hesterly Armory. We hoped for an entry of 250 in the summer and 500 in the winter. We had our meetings at the Humane Society. Every summer we had a covered dish picnic in Lowry Park and had a match for members only. The meetings were eventually moved to a bank building downtown Tampa where the bank displayed the trophies that were to be given in their window. Member used to write on the side walks with chalk that the dog show was coming. The members made the judges bologna sandwiches for lunch.
Trophies were offered but weren’t given if a certain number of dogs didn’t enter. You could combine sexes to make majors and you could enter and check a box that allowed you to pull your entry if there wasn’t a major. There was a measuring committee. If your dog was measured by the committee and found to meet the standard, the judge wasn’t allowed to measure the dog. We had a class only open to local (Hillsborough County) owners. The winner was awarded Best Local Dog in Show.
As our entry grew, or our show sites had more lucrative offers, we were compelled to move our shows. We went to the Florida State Fair Grounds in 1960, when it was on North Boulevard. In 1975, it was held at the stadium on Dale Mabry, then went to Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown. We found our way to the Fair Grounds on Hwy 301 where we held shows in the exhibition hall and then the Special Events Center. We held our show outdoors in Sable Park for two years and eventually had to move to a polo field in Sarasota because of the lack of suitable sites in our county. You can see why we grew tired of constantly looking for show sites, bought our own, and developed it to be “dog friendly”.
As you can see, times, conditions, and the way of doing business has changed for dog shows. As the saying goes, we have come a long way.