High Energy at Champions Center for CPE Nationals

indoor ring at Champions Center, Springfield OH
Two of the 6 rings at CPE Nationals were indoors

>> See more images and details about the Champions Center

The energy was truly buzzing at the 2018 CPE nationals! Competitors came with high hopes, coordinators and volunteers came with extra jobs in addition to running their dogs, the judges came with their well-prepared courses, vendors came with hopes of selling their wares, and the dogs – they just came and didn’t quite understand why this trial had so much more excitement than the others.

By the numbers:
* 800 dogs (760 on site due to attrition) *
* 500 exhibitors *
* 150+ RVs – 2nd highest number of RVs than
any event held at the fairground *

The right facility and people to run it

It takes a large facility to handle all the runs – one with at least 6 rings that can be run simultaneously, that has plenty of RV parking with hookups, that has ample parking for all the vehicles, green space for pottying and exercising dogs, shade when needed, restrooms with showers if possible, and food for exhibitors. It also takes one that has numerous clubs in the state to pull off the tremendous volunteer effort required for a national event – from obtaining the site, securing, transporting, setting up, and returning equipment, coordinating the largest worker raffle I’ve ever seen, handling all the scribe sheets and ribbons, and judges . . . it makes one head spin!

The Champions Center at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield Ohio has fit the bill for CPE nationals for its 2nd year, and has been approved for 2020 nationals. “There’s a bidding and selection process similar to the Olympics to be chosen as a CPE nationals location,” according to Mark Anthony, one of this year’s chairs alongside Kent Bromagan. “You have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s to be selected, that’s for sure. In Ohio we have 9 clubs comprising over 80 volunteers working on this effort,  and couldn’t possibly do it without them.”

Mark got involved in CPE nationals in 2013 when he was a “3rd wheel” with Jerry McKenzie and Kent Bromagen chairing. “There are usually two chairs for the trial, and I was just a helper to them at the time.” Then when Jerry stepped down, Mark stepped up to help manage the event.

A well orchestrated event with volunteers that respond on a dime

“You learn something new every year and get better at everything, but you cannot pull something off this big without some challenges,” Mark said. “The most amazing thing is that our volunteers respond so well that it makes those challenges seem very minor.” Here are some examples he gave:

  • Get the rocks out – While grooming the outdoor rings on Thursday, they ran into numerous large rocks. One text message to the group of volunteers brought 50 bodies to the rings within minutes to help get the rocks out!
  • Move it or lose it – After the thunderstorm and torrential rain late Friday left the two outdoor rings underwater, the volunteers again left what they were doing and immediately joined efforts to move fencing and equipment to the backup ring area on grass, a few thousand yards away.

“Whenever I text, whatever is needed, these people respond. It’s incredible.”

Well designed, close proximity rings

Personally, I really liked the proximity of the rings, at least until the water flooded two of them. Though I did not compete at this trial, it must have made things so much more convenient to have the rings close to each other. Especially if running more than one dog, being close has to have been so convenient.

Keeping cool

The state of Ohio can get very warm and humid in the summer, and the weather for this trial definitely fit that bill. Inside the main building at the Champions Center, one could find cool air conditioning in the ribbon pick up area/worker raffle room, in the food court/food vendor area, in the show office, and in the restrooms.

Kate Felton, April McGavin, and April’s mom Rosemary came well prepared for the heat when it came to keeping their dogs cool. Four large fans were attached across the top of their stall which drew cooler air down to their dog crates. There they had more fans keeping their dogs cool.

“We know how hot it can get here, and since we’re staying in a hotel, there isn’t any place to really keep the dogs cool,” Kate said. “So we came up with this idea. While it’s a little equipment to bring along, it sure helps keep the dogs cool.” Kate has Shelties and a ‘retired but still useful’ German Shepherd that keeps the Shelties in line.

“They’re more comfortable, and will run better if they feel better,” April, who runs Brittanies, added.

Golf carts are all the rage

Despite the closeness of the rings, golf carts were extremely popular. And despite their rental price tag, they all sold out. That’s mostly due to the fact that the RV’s are a distance from the rings.

While some crating took place ringside and others in stalls that had electric for fans, many competitors kept their dogs in cool air conditioning in their RVs. Having that golf cart sure had to come in handy when commuting back and forth. And of course, others required them for health reasons. It was also fun to see the decor everyone added to make sure they found the right cart!

Overall I was very impressed with the how well the trial ran, as well as the facility. CPE has already chosen the Champions Center for its 2020 Nationals. While 2018 is CPE’s 20th anniversary, 2020 is CPE Nationals 20th anniversary. So yet another anniversary to celebrate!

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