If you love outdoor AKC trials, then the Kalamazoo Kennel Club trial in West Michigan is a good bet. The trial is held once a year the third weekend in June. It is usually in the mid to upper 80’s temperature wise and often humid. But don’t let that scare you. The club’s air-conditioned building – used for crating, food prep, facilities, and awards – is kept very cool on those hot days, a refreshing feeling when coming in from a run. The club also provides numerous umbrellas, and puts up canopy tents for even more shade.
There are two agility rings, but they are not used simultaneously. This adds to the small-town “feel” of the place. One ring is set up while the other ring is being run, giving you lots of time for obsessive walking the non-used course and avoiding class conflicts all around. The ring closest to the parking lot had a smoother ground surface than the other ring this year. It would be helpful to smooth out some of the holes and hard mounds in that second ring before the next trial.
One ring also has some natural “poles”: two beautiful trees. While they are something to dodge in a run, they also provide much appreciated shade for the judge and sometimes a lucky bar setter. In addition to the trees inside the ring, there is a long row of Maple trees along the north side of both rings. These, too, provide cool shade on hot days when viewing or waiting for runs.
Lighting was an issue at times, as shadows from trees or clouds changed throughout a run. Some dogs had trouble seeing certain obstacles, such as the first weave pole. But this is to be expected in an outdoor trial. Practice, practice!
The trial secretary did not work the score table, but instead had a gentleman studiously enter all the scores and print out results and labels. This ran very smoothly, and I personally did not hear even inquiries about scores.
A nice feature of the grounds at this facility is that the agility rings and a few acres of land are completely surrounded by a 5 foot fence. This is so important because it keeps our dogs safer and away from the busy, 55 mph speed limit on the road out front.
RV camping is very nice at this facility. One can either park on the blacktop along the building or along sides of the parking lot, or go on the other side of the building (through a gate) and park in the large, fenced grassy field. I’ve camped in both places and prefer the grass due to its coolness and shade. The fence also offers a degree of safety should a dog accidentally get loose.
There are numerous 110v electric hookups. Many are alongside the building on blacktop or along the back of the building, but if one looks around, hookups are lurking along a second storage building too. Running air conditioning is not allowed when using these hookups so bring a big fan or a generator if running ac. Dry camping spots can have their advantages too – especially those near the top of the rolling hill that provide shade when the sun gets lower in the sky.
Overall, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy trialing at the Kalamazoo Kennel Club. If you plan to be in Michigan at its time of year, it is highly recommended!