Losing a Show Site
The Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County held its shows in Wayne County, Michigan at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit for many years. We usually used the Coliseum and the Dairy Cattle buildings, and in some years expanded into the Agriculture building. The site was old, but easily accessible from major highways and familiar to dog show exhibitors in the area. In late 2003, less than a month before our premium list information was due to the superintendent, we were told our reservation for the last weekend in April 2004 was cancelled so they could hold a hockey tournament in the Coliseum.
Where’s the Show?
Our show chairs immediately began scrambling to find a site that could host our event, and found that the Birch Run Expo Center, which was also being used to host the Saginaw Valley Kennel Club show earlier in April. This site was built in 1987 and was a clean, modern building originally built to house 2 hockey arenas. It was just off I-75 and close to both dog-friendly hotels, a lively outlet mall, and the charming village of Frankenmuth, which is a popular tourist destination. We were thankful to have found this option quickly, got the “out of area” site use approved by both the AKC and the SVKC whose territory included that show site.
Having had the SVKC shows in the same space helped us decide how to use the space. One side of the building housed the show rings and vendors, and the other side was dedicated to grooming. There were additional rooms that were used for hospitality and performance. The site had some advantages over the Detroit site, but was smaller, farther from a population center, and had no potential for expansion into adjacent buildings or open spaces.
COVID Stole our Site!
In 2019, we made plans to join up with the Pontiac Kennel Club to form a 4 show cluster in 2020. Having a show planned for April, 2020, meant – there was no show due to COVID.
The Birch Run Expo/Frankenmuth Event Center relied on events for income, but couldn’t host events for most of 2020, making an offer from Camping World to buy the building very tempting. So our show site changed hands and our contract for 2021 was cancelled.
A new site search launched. While in 2003 we were primarily looking for any site on an open date, in 2021 this was further complicated because a show in Ohio that had moved to our date while we were in Birch Run, and was close enough to make it impossible for us to hold a show in Wayne County due to AKC rules about the proximity of shows to one another.
Saginaw County Fairgrounds to the Rescue!
After some searching, we decided on the Saginaw County Fairgrounds, which was about 25 miles southwest of the Birch Run site. We liked that it had a large climate controlled building as well as several other buildings that were fully enclosed and still others that were covered, paved, and partially enclosed. The grounds are huge and have RV camping space approved for 100 campers. There are multiple out buildings and structures away from the enclosed buildings that can be used for scentwork. The size of the fields means we have potential to add events that can be held outdoors, like Fast CAT and dock diving, but we need to be mindful that late April Michigan weather is sometimes chilly.
The Saginaw County Fairgrounds have plans to improve existing buildings and add other structures, and we have plans to use them as upgrades take place. Although it looks like the AKC date conflicts in our official territory are easing, site availability in Wayne County is still an issue. The other two Wayne County based dog clubs, The Detroit Kennel Club and Livonia Kennel Club have not held shows in Wayne County for years, which makes it an underserved area for all breed shows. Amazon is on a buying/building spree which is filling the largest vacant spaces in the area, including the State Fairgrounds. Whatever happens, the Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County will adapt!