The Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds is packed with dogs this weekend as the Scottsbluff Kennel Club hosts its annual American Kennel Club-sanctioned dog show in Mitchell.
The show started on Friday April 1 and will run until Sunday April 3.
In 2021, the event attracted a record number of dogs. Members of the show’s committee said that this year the show may be on the verge of surpassing that number. The surge in exhibitors could be because the club is hosting the first AKC show of the season since similar shows in Colorado were canceled two years ago. It could also be attributed to the fact that the show will be held at a later date, giving handlers the opportunity to gain some experience of the puppies in the show ring, organizers told the Star-Herald.
Suzanne Lilija-Kingma, associate chair of the show and president of the Scottsbluff Kennel Club, explained that the rapid growth of the three-day show has raised concerns about space.
“We have outgrown our facilities,” she says. “It’s really difficult for exhibitors to walk through the aisles as they are.”
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Lilija-Kingma said the public was not invited to the event, as in years past, but will not be turned away.
“We’re just trying to limit the number of additional people causing traffic jams,” she said.
About 900 dogs of all sizes, their handlers, kennels and the equipment necessary for an exhibition at this level can take up a lot of space. The Scotts Bluff County Event Center will be divided into six show rings and two agility/obedience rings that will all run simultaneously from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Lilija-Kingma said the show will attract participants from as far away as Canada, Hawaii and South Carolina, and has seen dogs compete in the first Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
“It just depends on who’s trying to campaign with their dog and trying to win a Best in Show at a little show,” she said.
In the past, some members of the public have attended the show to see the variety of dogs and talk to their handlers in an effort to decide if a particular breed is right for them.
Lilija-Kingma encouraged anyone with breed or dog show questions to visit the Scottsbluff Kennel Club website at scottsbluffkc.org.
Nicole Heldt is a reporter for the Star-Herald and covers agriculture. She can be reached at 308-632-9044 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.