In the August 19 issue of Dog News, Bo Bengtson wrote an incredible piece on the history of the Santa Barbara Kennel Club from its very beginning. The article included pictures of 28 of the show’s Best in Show winners. So many of these went on to break records. In 1950, the Boxer Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest was BIS at Santa Barbara and went on to BIS at Westminster the following year. He was the first dog ever to win 100 Bests. In 1957, the Bulldog Ch. Kippax Fearnought was BIS after winning Best at the Garden in 1955.
In more modern times, quite a few dogs that won the Santa Barbara Kennel Club went on to win the Garden.
In the “glory days” of the Stevensons, Santa Barbara was the largest show in the country, and every top dog in the U.S. was competing. After the demise of the Stevensons, the show went into a spiraling downfall. Despite good intent, the committee could not control the show fading away. Once it really hit bottom, Abbe Shaw, David Powers, Jean Austin and several others took command, with great efforts to bring back some of the show’s prestige. For several years it was held the same weekend as Lompoc, when that was a beautiful show, and then SBKC moved to the third weekend in August.
This year, the weekend started with the Simi Valley Kennel Club, on Thursday and Friday, August 25 and 26, followed by the Santa Barbara Kennel Club on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28. The show’s special attractions were split over two days: the Foreign-Bred Competition and Breeders Showcase on Saturday and the Sighthound Spectacular and Bullyganza Competition on Sunday.
Santa Barbara has always been one of the most expensive parts of the country to visit. Hotel rates have always been high, and the show weekend is the busiest of the year in Santa Barbara. This year, the price of hotels, restaurants, gas, etc., etc., was even higher than just a year ago. The club was worried about how that would affect our entry. Happy to say, we were actually up a little bit, and on Saturday the entry was 1,603 dogs. The committee has worked very hard to bring in specialties and supported shows. This year we had 37 Labs, 44 Goldens, 44 English Cockers, 38 Ridgebacks, 31 Whippets, 34 Boxers, 40 Bullmastiffs, 42 Bull Terriers, 40 Cavaliers, 33 Bulldogs and 60 Frenchies.
One of the turning points was when we initiated the special attractions. In 2009, the first Breeders Showcase was held in memory of Irene Bivin. It was an immediate success, and had more dogs than we could handle comfortably. People quickly realized that you need a pair of top-quality dogs to be competitive. Each year it has about 120 different pairs from the seven groups.
The Terrier Group is always by far the largest entry of the Showcase. This is because the Bull Terrier breeders enter all their dogs in the Showcase. There were 26 Bull Terriers, or 13 pairs. And the Mini Bulls had 10, or five pairs. Some groups did not even have 13 pairs in total.
This year the two judges for Best in the Showcase were Sei-ichiro Ishimaru from Japan and Jose Homem de Mello from Portugal. Paul Stanton from Sweden was the referee in case one was needed, which has only happened once — not for Best in the Showcase, but for Reserve Best.
This year the winners of the Breeders Showcase were Whippets bred by Lori Lawrence and Lori Wilson Paust, and they were littermates. There were five pairs of Whippets in the Breeders Showcase. Reserve Best were Standard Manchesters bred by R. Jones; B., O., and T. Uyeno, and G. Jones, and they were littermates.
This year and last we moved the Foreign Bred Competition to Friday after Best in Show. It is not a pre-entry competition. You can enter Friday during the day, and the $10 fee goes to Take the Lead. It usually attracts about 40 dogs, and has some very top quality. Quite often the winner or another placer goes Best in Show at one of the regular shows. Besides one through four, there are four Awards of Merit.
This year the winner was a Samoyed bred in Canada by Judi and Blair Elford, who bred “Stryker,” the number-one dog in America last year. Dennis McCoy and Randy Garren were the judges for the highly competitive class.
The arena has to be finished before 2 p.m. after breed judging to set it up for the Breeders Showcase. There are usually about 25 tables seating 10 that are reserved for the main sponsors of the event. Also the area for the VIPs, which include judges and their guests, members, and judges of the special attractions. In total, more than 1,500 people are given a wonderful complimentary dinner and wine. There are two rings running the length of the arena side by side, with three groups in one ring and four in the other. We always hope to finish by 9 p.m.
A couple of years ago, we moved the Bullyganza and Sighthound Spectacular to Sunday afternoon before the groups. To qualify for these two events, a dog has to be BOB, BOW or BOS. For the breeds having specialties and concurrent shows, we also allow the two Selects.
The Sighthound Spectacular this year was judged by Terry Chacon. Each year, Terry does a painting of a scene from the previous year, which is auctioned off on Saturday evening. It also is the cover of the catalog. This year, Terry chose her winner to be the Afghan Hound Ch. Sunlit King of Queens, owned by Alicia Morrison Jones, Jamie Souza Bartlett and Michelle Hunter. “Louie” was also BIS at Simi Valley both nights.
It is always hard to get a judge for the Bullyganza. This is because you have breeds from the Working, Terrier and Non-Sporting groups. This year, Larry Cornelius judged it, and also judged the Terrier Group for the Breeders Showcase the night before. Larry said it was the most difficult assignment he ever had. I did not envy him. He had about six multiple top-winning dogs competing.
First was the Bulldog bitch Ch. Cherokee Legend Encore. Known as “Star,” she is owned by Kevin and Natalie Mason, and is handled by Dennis O’Connor. She was bred by Connie Chambers and “Mr. Bulldog,” Cody Sickle. Second was the young multiple BIS Frenchie, Ch. Fabelhaft Robobull Ferragamo. “Enzo” is bred by James Dalton, Patricia Hearst-Shaw and John Turjoman. Alberto Montila handles him for Melissa Mulchahey and James Dalton. Third was the Colored Bull Terrier Ch. Grabo Testarossa Formula for Drama. He was bred by Krista Prater-Piles and Franne Berez. Robert Thomas owns him with his wife Grace, who handles him. It is interesting to note that “Vinnie” was Best at the two previous Bullyganzas. He is the only dog to have won it twice. Fourth was the Bullmastiff Ch. Solo-K N Escalades Hot Off the Daily Prophet. He is owned by Jamie and Justin Palecek. His breeders are Kimerlee Cook and Sherry Boldt. The depth of quality was so strong. The first AOM, or fifth, was the Am Staff Ch. LBK’s Rebel and Proud Party Crasher. Blair Aguillard has piloted “Trouble” to close to 20 BIS. The remaining three AOMs were all top specimens of a Boston and two Bull Terriers.
The Bullyganza has gotten so much attention. Several clusters are putting one on next year. To take it even a step further, next year in Italy there will be a two-day show of just the Bully breeds. It will be a very exciting show, with large prize monies. It will be in northern Italy on September 9 and 10, 2023. The show will be held on the grounds of a beautiful hotel. Everyone who knows me realizes my passion for the Bully breeds, so I am so excited to be a part of it.
This year we had three different exhibitors with different breeds that came from Korea. “Newman,” the famous Pembroke that went BIS at the World Dog Show in 2019, did very well. A Toy Poodle that had already won two five-point majors at Poodle Club of America was competing. Two very nice Frenchies from Korea also. Santa Barbara is always a favorite show with many of our foreign friends. In the Stevenson days, many of the top judges of the world were always invited to SBKC. This year we had two judges from Sweden, one from Portugal and one from Japan. The tradition of having great foreign judges will always be a part of the Santa Barbara Kennel Club tradition.
It has been very rewarding to see Santa Barbara making a great comeback. Also now we see that the legendary International Kennel Club will hold a great show this coming January and also next August. In the “glory days,” International was one of the most important and largest shows of the year. International, like Santa Barbara, will be doing a lot of exciting special attractions. Hopefully we might see some other great shows able to make a comeback. It takes a few people to think out of the box. Example, the Breeders Showcase, the Foreign Bred Competition, the Sighthound Spectacular and the Bullyganza have helped greatly in bringing back Santa Barbara. Each year more breeds are coming on board with specialties, concurrent shows and supported entries. It really is true that one or two people can make or break a show.