It is interesting to find out what makes a success of something and what doesn’t. Belgium has several shows, most of them in Flanders. Kortrijk is probably the most famous, and Brussels is its biggest challenger. Shows in Wallonia have struggled and some disappeared, such as La Louvière and Namur. Charleroi is back but still recovering. The two remaining shows, however, are doing very well, Liège on one side, and Mouscron on the other side of the linguistic border that divides Belgium. The success of Mouscron has lasted now for 40 years, so it’s time to celebrate!
It all started in 1974 with a small show for dogs of Group 1 and 2 only on The Nekker, held in large tents with a modest entry of 130 dogs. The second show was a CAC and was held in a Fiat garage, enough to hold 425 dogs. That accommodation proved too small after three years, even when in the meantime the show was spread over two days. Another location was found to accommodate the show for the coming years as it was still growing. The closed factory offered a solution, large enough to accept no less than 2,014 entries in 1983, the largest entry they ever had. For many years the club felt comfortable here but then they had to move again in 1984 they moved to the cosy restored factory where they are now, with one exception, in 1990, when the show was held in Tournai. In ’94, ’96, ’98 and 2000 the show was spread over three days. If I remember, it had to do with the new rules in Belgium with regard to the minimum space that was required for a dog. But this proved not such a popular formula and when you were allowed to bring your own case, the rules changed again and from then on the show has always been held on two days only and since 2002 it has always been a CACIB show growing from 1,264 entries year after year to 1,808 dogs, three dogs more than last year.
The current expo halls are charming and cosy, but parking is a real problem and space is limited. On Sunday, however, the nearby supermarkets open their parking areas to offer more parking space. A very nice gesture, as on Saturday, when supermarkets usually have their busiest day, they need the space themselves. Every spot in an area of 1km around the halls is occupied by cars. But what intrigues me most is why an overcrowded show attracts so many much visitors? Many shows can only dream of the number of visitors that come to this show. Sometimes it is almost impossible to move around and still the show attracts so many visitors. And they stay, most of them stay till the very end to see who won. I just have no reasonable explanation for this phenomenon. Is it for the good food that is available at decent prices? Is it because dog sport is very popular in the area? I was told that people from Wallonia are more “foire” (fair) minded and that is probably the most reasonable and acceptable explanation. It is always very crowded at this show, but here you can clearly see how selfish some exhibitors can be, the main reason for this problem. I have seen some exhibitors bringing five toy dogs to the show and taking more space than others that exhibit five Irish Wolfhounds. They bring the whole family with them, a long chair for each, a table, cool boxes, a few cages and two separate tables to groom their dogs. I wonder why they don’t use the grooming area that was provided and I also wonder why they all need to have their cages next to the rings so that visitors cannot see anything but from a distance. They block the passage to others and bring people and dogs in danger.
If this show keeps on growing I think that the only solution will be to forbid any cages around the rings, only standing places would be allowed. Funnily enough, around 1pm most exhibitors start moving back away from the rings, which proves that there is enough space in the cages area. If your dog is on term at 12 noon, there is no need to have your cages and everything right next to the ring at 9am. Leave room for those we are on term first.
A look in the catalogue shows much respect for all those who are no longer with us but who contributed a lot to the success of this show, honorary members and presidents. They all get their place in the catalogue and are not forgotten this way. This is a very nice gesture. There is also a place reserved for the winner of last show. Not with a photo, but mentioned anyway are the helpers, ring stewards (much appreciated), restaurant staff, breeders and judges that are members of the club, but unfortunately, the only flaw is that there are no statistics. So I need to go over the participants list to have an idea.
My eyes fall immediately on a few entries from the United Kingdom, some from Russia and several Finns, which was probably a reason for seeing the three Finnish Judges. Foreign judges always bring some exhibitors with them, a chance for them to become a champion of that country. But a massive number of exhibitors crossed the southern border, the usual phenomenon here in Mouscron. Mouscron is a border town to France. The influence from the Netherlands and Germany was nothing compared to other Belgian shows. On Saturday, due to the discomfort caused by the lack of parking, smaller groups were planned and it worked, as only 763 dogs were on term that day. And due to the bad weather that day, many of them didn’t turn up. The weather forecast for Sunday was better, but the morning could be still cause serious trouble and it did, frozen glass. The committee gave orders to open the doors an hour earlier but even that was not enough to prevent a queue waiting to enter the halls. It promised to be a very busy day as the remaining more than one thousand dogs were on term. But to face these problems a strong team of judges was invited, 17 in total, 8 Belgians, 3 Finns, and one from Israel, one from Norway, one from Russia, one from Slovenia, another from Ireland and one from Latvia, and some were very, very busy. Like Mrs De Ridder from Belgium. She had 108 dogs on Sunday, not an abnormal number if you know that she had the Chinese Cresteds (36) and Chihuahuas (41). She finished the weekend as second most popular judge of the weekend with 163 dogs.
Mr Deschuymere, Secretary of the Mouscron club, came very close. He was relaxed on Saturday with only 25 dogs, but a hundred more were waiting for him on Sunday, including 43 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. With 125 dogs on one day he was the best scoring judge for Sunday and he finished with 150 dogs for the weekend.
Another good scoring judge was Mrs J. Klucniece from Latvia. She had 29 Bulldogs and 32 Great Danes on Saturday and 99 dogs on Sunday, 62 French Bulldogs, the best scoring breed, and 29 Pugs. Mrs M. Kavcic from Slovenia was pretty busy on Saturday when she had 86 dogs. Her popular breed that day was the Newfoundland with 38 specimens. With the 71 dogs of Sunday she had a total score of 157 entries. Mr and Mrs Lehkonen-Heikkinen from Finland were the hit of the weekend. They were good for 330 dogs or over 18% of the entries. Mr Lehkonen had no less than 109 dogs on Saturday, the best score on Saturday. These popular breeds helped him to reach this number; 22 Bull Terriers, 33 Staffordshire Bull Terriers and 42 American Staffordshire Terriers. Sunday didn’t bring him any relief. He had 102 entries, including 46 Labradors and 50 Golden Retrievers. His total for the weekend was 211, which made him finish in first place.
Best In Show judging was an honour granted to Mrs A. Ganami-Kertes from Israel. She had 68 dogs on Saturday and managed to attract 26 Dogue De Bordeaux and 17 Mastiffs to Mouscron. On Sunday she had 78 dogs when she did all the Poodle varieties and some companion breeds. With a total of 146 entries, she proved to have been a good investment. Mrs Ganami was asked to select only two dogs, the BIS and the Res BIS. Her Reserve went to the Weimaraner, Grey Classic’s I Kick Azz, a two year old Champion male, bred by Kristina and Edwin Lenaerts from Belgium. The dog was judged by Mrs P. Heikkinen, who also selected him for the finals when judging the Group in the main ring. The title of BIS went to France, where Pascal and Eric Lassero-Richard are taking care of Vannjty Guillaume The Conqueror, the 17 month old Pekingese male. Mr Deschuymere judged him on Sunday when he won from 8 competitors. Mrs J. Klucniece from Latvia offered him the cup of the Group and his ticket for the finals.
The owners could take him home safely, as on Sunday afternoon, the sun showed up, announcing the end of the Belgian winter.
I can give you the dates for next year, 25th and 26th of January so that you can reserve that date right now.