David Frei, of Westminster Kennel Club and National Dog Show fame, is “happy to be the announcer for Morris & Essex Kennel Club dog show this year. We’re expecting a huge entry, and everyone who enters is automatically a part of dog show history. What could be better?”
The Morris & Essex Kennel Club dog show, set for Thursday, October 1, 2015, at Colonial Park in Somerset, N.J., features an unprecedented 120 breeds holding national, regional and state-wide specialties, as well as supported entries with an 81-page premium list — the largest premium list ever created in dog show history.
The history and legacy of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club initially drew David Frei to become a “charter member” of the club back in the late 1990s.
“Morris & Essex is a great show and has its place in dog show history as the greatest outdoor show ever with Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge at its helm from the 1920s to 1950s. When my good friend, and all around great dog show guy and President of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Wayne Ferguson, brought the show out of mothballs in the late 1990s, he brought the show to a new era — paying respect to the glamour and grandeur of Ma Dodge’s shows and ramping that up even higher for today’s exhibitors.”
Every five years, starting in the year 2000, the elegance, glamour, style and high level of quality judging seen at Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge’s original dog show held on her polo fields is brought to life for a new generation. In its 1937 heyday, more than 50,000 dog-loving spectators descended upon sleepy Madison, N.J., while 4,104 dogs were shown. In 2010, the last time the Morris & Essex show was held, more than 3,415 entries of the world’s finest show dogs competed for Best in Show, with the 2-year-old Pekingese Ch. Palacegarden Malachy selected by renowned judge Robert Forsyth at Mr. Forsyth’s final assignment before his retirement. The 2010 M&E show went on to be awarded the 2011 “Show of the Year” award at the Show Dogs of the Year Awards.
Best in Show judge for 2015 is Mrs. Dorothy Collier and with 120 specialties and supporteds, well over 4,000 entries are anticipated.
On the 2015 dog show scene, Frei considers M&E the “show to be seen,” and he’s had inquiries from exhibitors planning their wardrobes; particularly their hat selections. In fact, many exhibitors and spectators shop vintage stores and online for clothes reflecting the styles of the 1920s to 1950s.
“An acquaintance of mine, Dave Sims, who does the play-by-play announcing for the Seattle Mariners, always looks really dapper in hats. In fact, every time I see him, he’s wearing another different, really cool, hat. So, I tweeted him and asked him about it, and it turns out he has a hat business. Lots of very cool styles — I’m consulting with him for the right hat for me.”
Dog show style inspiration also abounds in the gorgeous new M&E book The Golden Age of Dog Shows, published in time for this year’s show and available on the club’s website shop.
The Westminster/Morris & Essex Best in Show Connection
“I don’t think it’s coincidental that all of the Best in Show winners of our first three Morris & Essex Kennel Club dog shows of the ‘new era’ – 2000, 2005 and 2010 – went on to win Best in Show at Westminster,” Frei said.
“2000 had the great Kerry Blue, ‘Mick,’ Torums Scarf Michael, right off the boat from England and his Crufts Best in Show win, winning from the classes. Mick went on to win Westminster in 2003. 2005’s BIS winner ‘Rufus,’ Ch. Rocky Tops Sundance Kid, won BIS at Westminster in 2006. And, of course, the Peke ‘Malachy’ was the 2012 Westminster BIS winner.”
“Maybe winning Best in Show at M&E is a harbinger of things to come at the next Westminster Kennel Club show. You definitely want to be there and come along to see if that’s going to happen again. See who is going to follow in these illustrious pawsteps. And, there are going to be some impressive pawsteps – especially this year.”
Seeing the great show dogs of the day in a beautiful outdoor setting and a big ring are some of the lures to enter this year’s show, Frei added. When asked to name three top contenders he’s hoping to see in the Best in Show ring, Frei said he expects “all the great show dogs to be there.” He added, “In fact, I think dogs that are moving toward retirement and those coming out of retirement that may have been in their prime five years ago at the last M&E will be exciting to see in the Veterans classes.”
“This is going to be a tough Best In Show to judge, and isn’t that the way it should be?” Frei said. “I’m sure Dorothy Collier is going to have an impressive lineup and some very tough choices.”
One of the “tough” jobs David Frei will have as announcer of this year’s M&E will be waking up by 4 a.m. on show day. “I’ll be helping M&E President Wayne Ferguson and AKC Chairman of the Board Ron Menaker greet people at the gate starting at 5 a.m. If you want to say hello to the ‘Three Amigos,’ possibly see the best dog in your favorite breed, definitely see all the great dogs of the day and be part of dog show history, you need to enter M&E. It’s definitely the show to be seen in 2015.”
For show details, show merchandise and history, visit morrisandessexkennelclub.org.