Keys To Running A Successful Show written by Marie Miley-Russell copyright 2007
For a number of years I have regularly attended bird shows and fairs throughout the Midwest. Some of these shows are much more successful than others and the reason is usually that the prevailing attitude of the host club is contagious. If host club members are burned out, overworked, and unhappy the mood of the show is seriously compromised. Successful shows are held by clubs peopled with people who are dedicated to the work and who are happy to be where they are. Clubs which focus on ensuring that both participants and spectators are enjoying themselves are much more likely to host a successful show. Hosting a good show is a great deal of work and there is little point to bothering with a show if it will end up being unproductive and poorly attended.
Here is a short list of ways to make your show successful:
Coordinate dates with other shows in the region (at the least) and nationally. If multiple shows are held on the same weekend the pool of both exhibitors and judges is diminished for ALL of the shows.
Pick a date that does not conflict with major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. The closer one gets to Christmas, the more chancy the weather becomes - a major snowstorm can seriously impact the number of entries your show has. If you live in the northern part of the country, do remember to take the potential for bad weather into consideration.
Ensure that people serving on the show committee are interested in the work of the committee and have the time necessary to fulfill the duties of the positions to which they are assigned.
Advertise, advertise, advertise. No one will come to the show if no one knows about it. I have been told by a few long-term members that "everyone who is likely to attend knows about the show already". Not so! And those who are on the fence about attending may need a little encouragement to come. Make your show front-of-mind by advertising.
Pay careful attention to location and facilities. Make sure that the facility is large enough to accommodate all exhibitors, vendors, and visitors. (No one enjoys being crammed into a space packed with tables, birds, and hordes of people for an entire day and I do not believe that the birds enjoy it, either.) Make sure that there is plenty of FREE, convenient parking; good climate control (ALL THROUGH THE FACILITY); easy access for loading and unloading; and access to food and lodging.
Hire the best judges your club can afford. Hire different judges each year and try to have several years between repeating judges to ensure that exhibitors attending are able to experience a variety of judging styles. While certain judges may be popular and attract exhibitors, a novel judge will also attract exhibitors who have not shown under him before.
Ensure that your show will be sanctioned by the national American Singers Club, Inc. You must be sanctioned in order for exhibitors to acquire show points and to hire an accredited American Singer judge. The national ASC currently provides rosettes and medallions to the top three birds in a sanctioned show.
Value your exhibitors. This would seem to go without saying, but at some shows I have attended the host club members apparently forgot that the exhibitors are what make the event a show. These folks have spent their money and their time traveling to your show - show them that they are appreciated by being friendly to them and making their time in the show hall as pleasant as possible. A simple "thank you for coming- we are so happy you could make it" can make all the difference!
Provide hospitality to exhibitors and offer them an opportunity to socialize with each other. Offering some sort of food the night of benching ensures that exhibitors will not drop their birds off and disappear, but instead are more likely to stay and socialize. Food will encourage people to stay in the show hall- if they must leave the premises for it your show will not be as successful as it would be with food (believe it or not). The food does not need to be fancy- good, simple, reasonably-priced food works great.
Provide awards beyond the set of rosettes and medallions the ASC provides. While novices tend to love their awards, often long-time breeders have more rosettes, plaques, and trophies than they know what to do with and these items end up gathering dust on a shelf somewhere after a while. A little creativity can result in achievement recognition that winners can use for many years- a nice photo frame with a photo of an exhibitor and his winning bird is very nice and appreciated by fanciers, for example.