Progressive Blog

Finding New AKC Dog Show Sites

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.

irish setter trotting at dog show

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!

saginaw county fairgrounds aerial photo

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 Future

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!

AKC Dog Show Vendors

Discussion of dog show vendors

Vendors are an important part of the dog show experience. On site vendors provide a convenient place to get essential dog show supplies. They can be essential when exhibitors break, lose, or forget an important item on the day of the show. These independent retailers attend dog shows to get first hand access to dog show exhibitors. This relationship is changing as online commerce allows exhibitors to purchase more specialized items online; but Amazon is not going to send in a drone to big fairground outside Chesaning Michigan, so on-site vendors are still essential. Still, online shopping and declining entries cut into their on-site profits. We appreciate our vendors and try to make sure their experience each year brings them back in the future.

general dog show vendor

General Vendors

General Vendors provide the basic equipment to prepare and show your dog, including leads, bait, scissors, chalk and shampoos. Because Amazon can’t deliver fresh bait or replace a broken show lead in real time! General vendors are essential, but we only need ONE. The first to submit an application will be in; we do not accept two vendors in this category.


Sharpeners provide an essential hands-on service to anyone that uses scissors or clippers on their dogs. Many dog show exhibitors are also professional groomers and have an ongoing relationship with sharpening services. Equipment can be dropped off the first day of a show weekend and delivered before exhibitors head home on Sunday.

Dog Specialty Items

Dog show exhibitors are expert consumers of dog products. Products including durable chews like elk horns, custom apparel like britches for bitches in season, t-shirts with funny dog sayings, breed design household items, food for dogs with special needs, are some of the vendor types seen at the largest shows. While many of these items can be obtained online, the appeal of seeing them in person, and the impulse to buy when you’re hanging out at the dog show with friends can be a powerful motivator to buy.

Dog and People Services

Vendors who offer treatments, like chiropractic treatments and massage therapy come to dog shows as well. These practitioners are usually certified to work on both dogs and people. Days of walking, trotting and running on hard surfaces can take their toll, and exhibitors, club members, and their dogs all appreciate these treatments.

Please Shop at our Shows!

Everyone benefits when vendors with useful and attractive merchandise, located close to the exhibition area, and buyers with time and money come together. Please support our on-site vendors to ensure they will be there for the future. To become a vendor, contact the Progressive vendor chair.

Dog Show Special Attractions

The Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County and many other AKC licensed dog clubs hold Special Attractions at their shows. These attractions are meant to add a fun or educational element to the show experience for exhibitors and spectators.

We have been holding special attractions with our shows for 10 years, including Canine Good Citizen (CGC) tests, National Owner Handled Series (NOHS) and Best of the Best Junior Handler Competition. The AKC has a list of

Best of the Best Junior Competition

In the Best of the Best Junior Competition, every show associated with our weekend that offers Junior Showmanship, sends the first place winners of each Juniors classes forward to this competition. The finals judging takes place on Sunday and is judged by professional handlers. We are proud to offer a $500 scholarship for the overall winner each year. We keep the money in a special account and send a check to the winner’s academic institution when they enroll full time in higher education or a trade school.

Standing Special Attractions

The AKC has a list of special attractions that can be held without special approval. However, other attractions, like our Best of the Best can be approved by submitting an application. These can include competitions, parades, demonstrations, tests, and educational events. As long as the application arrives early enough, criteria are clearly defined and the event does not negatively impact the show’s licensed events, most events are approved, and improve the show experience.

4-6 Month Beginner Puppy Competition

Introduction to the 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy competition at the Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County’s shows

The Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County has been offering 4-6 Month Beginner Puppy competition since 2013, the first year it was available

Classes are offered for all AKC breeds as well as FSS and Miscellaneous breeds, with Best of Breed/Variety puppies competing in their respective groups all the way up to Best in Show.

This competition allows young puppies and new exhibitors to practice in a encouraging environment. Our judges have commented how much fun it is for them to see the puppies and to help them and their handlers to have a positive experience at our shows.

This year, we will hold our 4-6 month Beginner Puppy competition on Saturday.

Dog Show Food Vendors

Updates about the food vendors confirmed for the spring 2023 Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County show weekend.

When dog show exhibitors set up their grooming area at a show, they are committed to staying at the show at minimum a couple of hours, and in some cases all day. It’s not easy to leave the grounds, so sooner or later they are going to get hungry or thirsty. Some exhibitors bring coolers and all the supplies necessary to fix meals at shows, but others will be looking for food before or after their dogs go in the ring.

The Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County prides itself on serving great catered food to its judges, workers, and members, but we also try to make sure that there is good food available for our exhibitors. This year we welcome back the mini donut, specialty coffee, and fresh lemonade food trucks that were at our show in 2022.

Speaking of mini donuts, we are again partnering with the Mini Donut vendor to offer FREE coffee and donuts to exhibitors from 7-8 AM on both Saturday and Sunday.

We are excited to have Sovis Farms’ Home Cookin’ food truck join us this year. Sovis raises their own beef cattle and vegetables and offers a farm-to-table menu. We hope you stop by and try their food, we think you’ll be glad you did.

Sovis Farms also sells their beef direct to customers, check out their website for more details.

2023 Progressive Spring All-Breed Dog Shows

Overview of the show weekend organized around the Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County’s all breed dog shows and scentwork trials April 28-30, 2023 in Chesaning Michigan.

I hope you are getting excited about the Progressive Dog Club of Wayne County’s back to back shows, on April 29-30, 2023, which are the FIRST all breed shows in Michigan for calendar year. This year, there are only two all breed shows, but the same specialty, group, and special attractions as in 2022, including 3 days of AKC scentwork starting on Friday April 28th. We are also happy to announce a limited entry all-breed obedience and rally trial hosted by the Siberian Husky Club of Greater Detroit that will be held Friday afternoon. See the SHCGD’s premium list for details.

RV Reservations

RV reservations can be made online starting March 1st. The campsites include sites with electrical and dry camping (no electrical) sites. There are no water or sewer hookups, but we do have potable water and a dumping station on the grounds.

Grooming Space Options

Grooming space can be reserved online as well. There will be 10 x 10 foot spaces in the Dog Barn building including electrical, and we will also allow people to reserve horse stalls, most of which have electrical, for no charge. Free covered grooming space will also available on site. Grooming reservations can also be made online. Links will be available on our Our Shows page and our Facebook page.

On-Site Food Options

We are excited about some new and returning food vendors this year. Sovis Farms’ Home Cookin’ which features a full menu of farm-to-table items will join us this year, we will have a specialty coffee vendor, fresh squeezed lemonade and delicious mini donuts. Speaking of mini donuts, Progressive is sponsoring a free coffee and mini donuts hour from 7-8 AM on Saturday and Sunday of our show weekend.

New Superintendent BaRay Events

Premium lists and online entry for all weekend conformation and obedience events are now available from our new for 2023 superintendent BaRay Events. You can download the scentwork trial premium (pdf) which includes online entry options from this website.

Event Flyers

I will also be promoting the shows on Facebook with targeted posts about different aspects of the shows, and we are planning to host a meetup for mentors and mentees that are members of the Dog Shows & Sports: Newcomers and Mentors Connect group on Facebook.