Dubuque dog show canceled for this year

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Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 1:26 pm

No barking. No fur primping and blow drying. No dozens of campers parked in downtown parking lots. No hundreds of extra visitors streaming in and out of area businesses and restaurants.

A scheduling gaffe between the Dubuque Five Flags Center and the Dubuque Kennel Club has led to a cancellation of the city’s popular dog show, which the Dubuque club has hosted every year since 1955.

The miscommunication occurred following the conclusion of last year’s show, with Five Flags scheduling the 2013 event for March 29-30, rather than the necessary March 23-24. The American Kennel Club assigns certain weekends for each club, making sure there is no overlap between shows within 300 miles of one another. The Dubuque show is set each year by a semi-complicated “12th weekend” of the month calculation.

Judy Thill, Dubuque Kennel Club treasurer and show chairwoman, said Five Flags normally sends out contracts after the first of the year. When she did not receive one by mid-January, she called and discovered the mix up.

The first Tri State Golf Expo is booked for March 23 at Five Flags, where experts will provide tips to improve your golf game.

“I am so disappointed,” said Joyce White, general manager of the Five Flags Center. “When we counted it out, we put the same date as historically consistent with past years’ formula. It was a surprise to both of us.”

The dog show has been held at the Five Flags Center since it opened in the late 1970s, according to Thill, attracting dog-owners from around the Midwest. The two-day family event consistently brings around 900 dogs, and at least as many handlers and owners, who accumulate American Kennel Club all-breed points with the hope of an invitation to the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Dan LoBianco, executive director of Dubuque Main Street, said the loss of the dog show, like any major event, hurts the city.

“Whenever we lose a regular event, it will absolutely have an impact on the downtown and Dubuque economy,” he said. “We depend on our local patrons, but those visitors have such a great impact on a positive cash flow.”

Thill said the show ran into a similar scheduling problem at Five Flags many years ago when a hockey game was scheduled in the show’s place. The show received permission to move its date up a week, but there was no such luck this time. Thill said there are no other venues in the area with openings, or capable of handling the crowd on its assigned date.

Thill said she is frustrated with Five Flags.

“We have it scheduled for 2014,” she said. “I doubt very much it will be at Five Flags. That old saying, ‘the third time’s a charm.’”

Thill said she was under the impression that the dog show couldn’t be held at the Grand River Center until it “outgrew” Five Flags. Mitzi Yordy, general manager at the Grand River Center, said there is no reason why the event could not be held at the center, but there is an event scheduled for the evening of March 24.

Thill said the Dubuque County Fairgrounds is the most likely venue in years to come, though it will need extra electrical capability.

“The show can’t be, so it’s something you put aside and look to the future,” Thill said. “There’s nothing you can do about now.”

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