AP NEWS

Annual dog show adds a new event, Barn Hunt, based off common use of breeds to hunt vermin

March 11, 2018

MITCHELL – A tradition started in the early 1980s, the annual Scottsbluff Kennel Club annual dog show returns the weekend of March 30 through April 1.

Each day is a separate show and runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Events Center at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds, 130625 County Road E in Mitchell.

“We started with only two rings set up on the grass in front of the old Quonset building,” said Suzanne Lilja-Kingma, publicity contact for the show. “Both the show and the fairgrounds have grown quite a bit since then and the facility is much better.”

The local show is the 13th event of the showing season, with the circuit set by the American Kennel Club. “Sunday’s show falls on Easter, which happens once in a while,” Lilja-Kingma said. “We are offering a Sunrise Service on Sunday morning for the exhibitors who would like to attend. We’ve done that in the past as well.”

She emphasized that each day is a separate show, with dogs appearing in all three, showing under different judges. This year’s shows will include judges from seven different states, from California to Virginia.

For the first time last year, the Scottsbluff Kennel Club awarded a $500 scholarship for the Best Junior Handler. This year, the club is offering a $750 scholarship for the Best Junior Handler and a $500 scholarship for the Best Reserve Junior Handler.

“We award these scholarships to encourage young people to get involved,” Lilja-Kingma said. “They had entries in all seven classes last year. These kids train under professional handlers and a lot of them go on to be professional handlers and learn the show circuit.”

Divisions start at age 8 for junior showmanship and go up from there. Occasionally, parents bringing their children will decide to show their own animals.

Entries close on March 13 and then the show’s judging program will be available at the Scottsbluff Kennel Club’s Facebook page. Last year, about 700-800 entries were recorded. That number included confirmation and junior showmanship, along with obedience and rally.

Something new is also scheduled for this year’s show – a Barn Hunt. It’s been growing in popularity recently and is open to dogs of any breed, age or mix. The only requirement is that the dog must fit through an 18-inch wide by bale height tall tunnel.

The Barn Hunt is based on the traditional roles of many breeds in ridding farms, barns and crop storage areas and homes of destructive vermin.

It’s a safe, fun sport for dogs where safety for the rodents is also important. They jump into their aerated tubes and enjoy interacting with the dogs.

Lilja-Kingma said the Barn Hunt is an independent event. However, the American Kennel Club is considering whether to sanction the event.

Until then, anyone who wants to participate will need to go the Barn Hunt Association website to enter.

Entry to the show is $3 per car. For more information on the show, call Lilja-Kingma at 308-632-4271.