How to Hold an AGS Sanctioned Show(Hint: It's really easy.)
by: Joanne Karohl
I frequently hear members in other parts of the country lamenting that there are no AGS sanctioned shows near them, or that they have no choice but to show in shows sanctioned by other registries. Here in New England we have a very full show schedule—this year, there will be at least 16 AGS sanctioned Nigerian Dwarf shows within a few hours of my farm. The reason this is true is very simple—we want lots of shows, so we hold them.
If your idea of a goat show is a lavish event held in a large expensive stock arena, you might be surprised at how low key our shows are, but the simple venues and low-key atmosphere make our busy show season possible. Anyone in any part of the country can hold a goat show, as long as there are other exhibitors who are willing to attend.
The first step is to find a place to hold your show. New England shows have been held at member's farms, in a large flat area or a field; at country fairgrounds where there are shed rows for penning, or no pens at all, and a pole barn in case of rain; in the picnic area of a church, with a large rented tent. Most of our venues are free or cost at most a couple hundred dollars, plus tent rental. We are accustomed to bringing our own pens to shows, as most of our shows are trailer shows. From the point of view of the organizer, this means space is required for parking and penning, but set up and take down are not, greatly simplifying the whole endeavor. We usually hold one-day shows, and since they are within easy driving distance of most of our regular crowd, we usually arrive the morning of the show and drive home that same day. Depending on how many exhibitors you have eagerly awaiting the chance to attend your event, you might even consider having a multi-ring show on one day, or holding a show that lasts more than one day. Then you will have to consider possible accommodations for exhibitors, etc.
Once you have a place and a date, you need to find a judge. This is best done several months or more in advance, because the most popular judges book up quickly. You can contact judges from the list on the AGS web site, or ADGA judges who are willing to obtain a one-day license to judge from AGS. Once you have a judge who can fit you into his or her schedule, make sure you have a clear agreement on what the judge will expect for a fee and what expenses will be covered by you, the show organizer. Draw up a simple contract containing a statement of what has been agreed, and send 2 signed copies of the contract to your judge, with a stamped self addressed envelope so they can return a copy to you.
Next you need to develop a document with a list of the classes you are offering and what rules will apply to your show. Fill out a show sanction application, available from the AGS Office or as a downloadable file on the AGS web site, and send the classes and rules and the show sanction application, with payment, to the AGS Office. Be very careful what classes you decide on, because once you apply for your sanction, you cannot alter this list, or you risk invalidating your show. Sanctioning fees from AGS are very reasonable, and rosettes and certificates are included in the cost.
Make sure you have a show committee to help make sure things run smoothly. Assuming you are acting as the show chair, you will also need a show secretary to fill out and sign paperwork on the day of the show, and a ring steward to ensure that classes are called and everyone arrives in good order ready to be judged.
By now you should have a pretty good idea what your expenses will be, and hopefully you have some idea how many animals are likely to be entered. With this information you can decide about how much to charge per entry. Shows in New England typically attract about 100 animals, more or less, and entry fees range from about $5 to $8 per class. At this fee and rate of participation, the average show just about breaks even.
Prepare a show information document that includes the show rules, list of classes, start times, directions, an entry form, and instructions for entering, including entry fees, deadlines, and where to send the entry. At this point, your main task is to make sure as many potential exhibitors as possible know about your show. List it in goat publications, which is usually free, and on the web sites of local goat clubs, and your farm web site, if you have one. Post it on Internet mailing lists, and mail or email the entry document to local breeders.
We have a collection of forms that we adapt to the specific circumstances of each show as it is held. Once you have adapted a set of documents or created your own, the process is much faster the next time around. I will be posting a set of example paperwork on the AGS web site, along with a show organization document, which was developed by Gail Putcher. If you have ever attended a show run by Gail, you know that by now, she has definitely thought of everything. These templates have worked very well for me, and I highly recommend the organizational document as required reading. It describes the details of preparing a show program, setting up on show day, and making sure that the show runs smoothly so that everyone has a great time.
There is no reason to waste energy wishing that there were more goat shows near you—go out and have a show!