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Below, Anthony Kelly, all breeds judge and a pivotal member of the successful Limerick team for many  years, discusses the ongoing question about falling entries, and what is the cause of this phenomenan which seems to becoming a world-wide problem in our hobby/sport.......
Any thoughts on the subject, sent via email to  or pm to our facebook page, would be welcome, and will be passed on to the writer.
Falling Entries - Cause & Effect..
In recent months there has been on-going debate about falling entries.  I previously wrote an article about ‘Too Many Shows’ and this is one part of the problem.  It is very evident that there are far too many shows, and that as a result people are choosing which shows to enter, which results in shows attracting less entries.  Cost is a major factor - high fuel costs which continue to rise.  Then you have the back to back Shows which involve an overnight stay; hotel costs have risen dramatically in the past two years.  The intention of back to back Shows was to free up weekends so as not to congest the Show calendar, however this is not the case, in fact as a result of freeing up weekends, The Irish Kennel Club has granted even more Clubs licences to run Shows, which now sees almost every weekend from April until September holding shows.  What is important here is that there are only so many shows people can attend, and with the current number of All Breed Championship Shows running at 33 (35 next year) and rising, Shows are attracting less and less entries which will eventually result in less Shows.
Perhaps it is time for the IKC to take a good look at the show scene and maybe allocate bi-annual status to some of the shows, and also ensure that the so called 'Back to Back' shows are actually held at the same venue as the title would suggest. This would give exhibitors, their families, and especially their dogs, the odd weekend break which they currently do not have; as we know dog showing is addictive and they will make the effort to enter every show on offer.
They should also look at the 'quality' of venues chosen by Clubs, I acknowledge it can be very difficult to source venues however exhibitors are 'customers' and as such deserve good venues and good service the Clubs taking the money need to give value for money.  Our governing body should investigate make decisions on this, no matter how unpopular they may be.
There are other factors which have given rise to falling numbers.  From being involved with one of our major Shows held in Ireland let me give you an insight to running costs that Clubs face when running a show.  The majority of people attending shows are not involved in the running of a Show so it is important that they are aware of the costs involved in running such an event.  Firstly there is the Irish Kennel Club licence fee €2,500, venue cost which can vary from €2,000 upwards.  Some shows in the North were paying almost £10,000 for the Eikon venue.
Many Clubs have to pay personnel to assist with set up and dismantling of show equipment.  Yes, Clubs have Committees, however the task is daunting and it is not possible for them alone to undertake this task.  If you look at the age profile of the majority of Clubs there are very few Clubs with young people getting involved.
Recently there have been many debates about Judges with comments poor to very good and while not entering this debate as everyone will have an opinion; all I will say is the choice is yours whether you enter or not and I am a firm believer that if a person judges to their ability and to their conscience they will earn the respect of those that can see this.  Clubs try to have a balance of Irish/Overseas when selecting a judging panel and many exhibitors like to see overseas judges, however there is a high cost with this.  With the continuing trend of falling entries, Clubs will have no option but to reduce the number of overseas Judges and this undoubtedly will result in less entries.  Getting back to costs, to bring in an overseas judge this is on average €1,000 per Judge to cover flights, car parking, accommodation and meals and that is without the FCI judges' daily fee.  Some Irish Judges do not charge however average cost would be €80 to €100 to cover fuel and meal.
Printing costs are on average €4,500; this area needs to be addressed.  With online schedules the purpose of a printed schedule is no longer feasible.  Yes, there are some who still want a hard copy, however to justify printing schedules is no longer an option for many Clubs.  Postage has become very expensive, this is a huge cost to Clubs with postage within Ireland €1 and overseas €1.70.  Catalogues are one of the greatest wastes for any Club; people no longer buy them, only a very few look for them and Clubs throughout the Country end up disposing of them after the Show.  We still need the information contained in the catalogue so we now need to move to online catalogues; most of Europe is now operating on this basis.  For those who wish to avail of the online catalogue the cost is far less than the €5 currently charged, so a saving to both exhibitor and Club.
Ring numbers and car passes -  these come at a cost particularly in postage, these should be available online and for those who still prefer to receive their ring numbers hard copy they can be collected at the Show.  Service providers to Clubs need to invest in technology to cater for the ever changing demands and to ensure Clubs can be as cost effective as possible otherwise Clubs will not be able to run events.
Competition is good, however a monopoly is bad for both Clubs and exhibitors.  The Irish Kennel Club are looking at ways to increase revenue, and, with failing registrations, why do they not offer Clubs a printing service  they have the resources to undertake this.  There is no doubt that there is room for another company to enter the market to supply show services to Clubs and this needs to happen.
Other costs are - rosettes on average €800 - €1,000, public address, meals for stewards and helpers, maintaining/replacing equipment, prize money, prize cards, tent hire, payments to outside personnel employed to help parking and admission, Show Secretary Honorarium etc… these all add up to the overall cost in running a Show, and some of those Clubs who want to host really exhibitor friendly and enjoyable shows are finding themselves struggling financially, as although they see entries decrease, and their bank balance shrink, they do not want to drop their standards.
Another area which needs addressing is Champions -  of course they should be included at every show; however at All Breed Championship Shows they should not compete for the Green Star/CACIB but should be allowed to compete for Best of Breed as is the case in Europe.  For Breed Club Shows they should be allowed compete for the Green Star.  We are after all full members of F.C.I.,therefore we should adopt this approach which should result in greater entries.
This is an idea which merits serious consideration by the General Purposes Committee - the 7 Green Star awards required in order to make up a champion 3 of those awards should be gained at a Show outside of Dublin to encourage people to attend shows around the country.  The majority of shows are held at the National Show Centre so a person need never attend a show outside Dublin.  This will result is shows held around the country attracting higher entries.  Either that or have two titles; a Dublin Champion, for dogs winning all 7 Green Stars in Dublin, and an Irish Champion, for dogs having won at least 3 of their Green Stars in each of the other three Provinces.
In summary, entries are falling year on year, and this needs to be addressed.  The majority of people know there are too many shows, Clubs are facing difficult times ahead and Club representatives on An Ard Chomhairle need to address this issue, so I urge you to lobby them to represent you and Clubs.  More importantly, those that are voted on to the General Purposes Committee need to act now as Shows will decrease, which will result in lost revenue for I.K.C.  Brexit is looming and this could have a huge impact on entries in Ireland.
We have a great hobby in dog showing, however if we do not address the greatest threat to Shows, we will find that this hobby of ours will only cater for a small majority which will result in less dogs and the reduction in breed numbers as can be seen today.
Anthony Kelly, Limerick
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