I was called at the beginning of the week, and was asked to show because the show had a severe lack of large fowl. With such a shortage, it would be easy to win something, so even though it was Shelby's birthday the day after I agreed to come. I was told it was okay for me to coop out early seeing as I needed to get back home and pick up the cake, clean up some around the house, decorate and get ready for the party on Sunday.
I packed up all of my birds in carriers and boxes the night before and put them in the back of the covered bed of my truck, packed up any grooming supplies, feed and water cups and feed. I also was thinking ahead for once and packed two director style folding chairs for Dwain and myself. It seems at almost every show there is nowhere to sit, so I brought my own seating to ensure a spot to plant myself. I also brought bottled waters in a cooler and some of those Arizona Tea mixers with Splenda. I am trying to stay away from any cokes of any kind.
(Yes, I know...coke is what we southerners call everything, be it Pepsi or Dr Pepper, its all a coke. Pop, soda, carbonated drink...its all coke to us)
I always have to leave the house at an unreasonable time to get to the Monroe show. It is two hours away and I like to get there and settle in without rushing. I got up at 1:30 am and left the house at 3:10 am. There was no danger of heavy traffic, or any traffic for that matter. I do like that fact. As I got into Atlanta I picked up Dwain. He is my best chicken buddy and the only one that will go to shows with me. My husband works a lot, and Shelby is just not going to get up and go with me at that hour of the morning, and I don't blame her. She did show last winter show season and won big, and I commend her for it.
After picking up Dwain we headed straight for Monroe. The directions seemed simple. They seemed simple the last time we went to a show there. They had it at Criswell Park. The directions for that location stated to go past the white church and turn right on Highway 11. No one informed us that there were 127 white churches on Highway 11, and that Monroe should probably be renamed the City of Little White Churches...and I say that laughing softly in jest with a smile.
The directions for this time sounded very simple. Go north on Hwy 11. After you pass over Hwy 78 start looking for the sign that points down the road to the show. Simple...right? But no, it was anything but simple. We rode up and down the highway in the dark looking for a sign, a sign in a sea of little signs all along the road displaying ads for all sorts of things. We stopped at the Waffle House along the road and I began searching on my phone on a message board to see if anyone had left directions. YES! Paydirt! It was on the Britt Family Property. So I googled it, and I got it! It was down some squiggly long country road, first road on your right after passing through Hwy 78. As we started to pull out, I heard a little bantam crowing in the truck in the same parking lot. Dwain suggested we ask him, just to be sure. Thank goodness we did. He said we would never find it to follow him. I thanked him very much and we followed.
Now, as we are going down the road, we don't go the way I expect to go at all. We pull into a parking lot with a building right there, and on the front of that building is Britt Appliance. We pull down the side behind that building to another building.
Why wouldn't you just tell anyone coming to the show to pull down the side of Britt Appliance???? After daylight we did see the show sign, but COME ON!!!
Anyway, we thanked the man again and pulled on in. Hardly anyone was there. Not really too surprised seeing as no one was going to be able to find it until daylight.
First order of business for me is to use the restroom. I go into the building and ask where the bathroom is. There is no bathroom. There are two port o pottys outside. GREAT. No real bathrooms. So I go on and do my business...in the big blue port o potty. At least it was still clean and unused at the time.
Dwain and I began unpacking birds, I stood in line and got my birds tested (all birds must have a blood test for disease before you can show them) while he brought in the rest. After testing and paying my entry fees I took an exhibitor list and found my exhibitor number. We went to the large fowl section to look for the birds coop tags that would put each bird in its place.
Well, when you go to a show, usually you have coop tags with your number, the birds variety, breed and cock, cockeral, hen or pullet. I brought eight birds. I only had four tags, thus only four coops. Well this was not good. I went up to the table up front and told him I didnt have coops assigned, no coop tags, what was going on? He gave me clips and more coop tags, and I, yes I, had to fill out my own and put them on some empty coops so I would have places for my birds. To top it all off, all breeds are supposed to be together. Two of my cochins were on the far end of the table, while two of my others with three other peoples cochins, were on the other end. I think this cost me later on when the judge was judging as he came upon Buckbuck and Babes daughter and had to rethink his judging. He said he didnt see these. I told him I didnt have a choice, that the Andelusians were already tagged at that end. He understood.
So, I have every bird in their respective coops, finally. Now its time to get out the hanging water cups and give everyone some water. I usually fill my water jug before I even leave the house, but this time I didnt. So, once again I go to the front and ask where a faucet, spigot, hose, something to dispense water is. Then I was informed that there was no running water there. GREAT. Luckily a man overheard me and had a huge orange cooler full of water and filled my jug for me. I thanked him profusely and went on my way.
After getting everyone some water (you don't feed til after the judging, it fills their crops and the judges can't feel the birds physique as well) we got our chairs and cooler (and at that time realized I could have used some of my bottled water, oops), sat down in front of the large fowl table and relaxed for a few minutes. It was still dark outside, but the lights were on in the building, until they went out. Yep. So everyone that had gotten there later was running around in the dark using their cell phone lights to see. I had groomed my birds the night before and wasnt really concerned, but others were not having such an easy time. So, no toilets, no running water, AND no electricity. Wonderful. The lights finally did come back on about an hour later.
They did have a nice trailer brought in, one of those that cooks inside and serves food. Dwain and I got some breakfast when they opened up. Dwain was sleepy so he went out to the truck and napped. I don't blame him, I would have if I could have. He said later I should have got him up sooner, because he missed the judging.
Before the judging started I met a nice lady from the SC/GA border. She had been told I would be there by the lady I get my cochins from. She also had bought a cochin cockeral from her. She was new to showing and Beth had told her that I would talk to her and help her out. We sat and talked, I looked at her boy, he was beautiful. She told me not to think of her as competition, that she was just wanting to learn right now. I smiled and said to her Yeah! Until you win a couple of times, then you get bit by the bug and want more and more! Its addictive I tell you. I really enjoyed talking with her and meeting her and we hit it off right away. We exchanged phone numbers and plan to keep in touch and see each other at shows.
Now the judging begins. I had never heard of any of the judges there. There was a reason for that, but I will tell you about that later. Lets just go along with the story as it happened. The judge goes around looking at birds, pulling some out to look closer. Back and forth, scribbling things on coop tags. I wait patiently with my new friend. Dwain is still napping so we sat in the two chairs I brought, waiting for results. As he came by, I was telling her about stubs on Polish (tiny hairlike feathers, barely able to see them, but a no no, have to pull those out before a show, usually found between the toes) and how clean legged birds should not have those, he was looking for stubs on my buff laced polish pullet. He peeked over and overheard us and I nodded and acknowledged what he was doing and told him he wouldnt find any on my polish. ;)
He then proceeded to tell me my polish were all underweight. :( I informed him that three out of four were only about seven months old. Polish take a long time to fill out. They are not a heavy bird anyway, they are a more upright slender bird. He said it didnt matter, they were underweight. ????????? Whatever. Again, what I found out later explains a lot about this comment.
As all large fowl judging was over, Honey(my new friend) and I went around looking at the coop tags. I was explaining to her what each scribbling meant and how the judging process worked. There was also a discrepency of how the black cochins were numbered, there were two 'ones' and two 'twos' which makes no sense, they should have been labelled one through four. Again, you will understand this finding later on when I tell you what I found out.
On her tag was the word "COMB". Now, when a judge puts something like that on your tag, it generally means there is a fault with that part of the bird. Later, she was told that the bird was too young, and so the comb was not big enough or some crap. It was crap nevertheless.
William, my splash cochin got Champion Asiatic. WONDERFUL!!! My buff laced polish pullet got Champion Continental. FANTASTIC!! Shirley, my silver laced polish got Reserve Continental. GREAT! So I had won some stuff, and I was excited and happy. But wait...who won Champion Large Fowl and Reserve Champion Large Fowl? I mean, sheesh, I was a shoe in easy right? What happened? Even Beth just knew I would surely take home one of these places. Nope. Same exhibitor, won both, with two sumatra hens. I am sorry, but I have seen much better sumatra hens. I am not one to whine about losing to a better bird. I bow down to a better bird than my own and will always give tribute to a rightful winner. But not this, this was just not right. But, I would go home with something right? A trophy or two, or a plaque, whatever, so I went on up to the trophy table and started looking to see what I was going to recieve. I mean there had to be something there, there was a table slam full of stuff. Looking....looking. Not seeing anything. I see random stuff, weird stuff, like Best Phoenix, and even Second Best Phoenix? But there were none of those in the large fowl??? I was confused. So I asked.
"Oh everything here on the table is for the juniors except three things. The only thing for the adults is Champion Large Fowl, Reserve Champion Large Fowl and Champion Bantam.
??????????????????????????? Uhhhhh HUH??? Jilted, I walked away. He told me next year they would try and do better.
Some shows, small shows, don't have the money to get stuff. This is a medium sized show for the area. I have brought home four plaques AND a trophy from ONE show from this show in Monroe before.
I am all for promoting the juniors, but, they need to remember WHO pays for the juniors entries and WHO brings the juniors to the shows. Sometimes the parents are not exhibitors, but sometimes they are. Without the adults, and their money, there would be no juniors. So lets feel the love for the open show too, even if its just a little something, if you win, you should get a ribbon at the least! I was not very happy. I was not lied too, I won alright, I was told I would win, but I had nothing to bring home to show for it to put in with my other wins.
Well, poo. It was time to pack up and get out of there. I wasn't feeling any obligation to stick around for anyone so Dwain and I packed up and left. I didnt even take any pictures, and I am sorry for that, but I just wasnt feeling very happy. Plus it was too dang dark in the building to take any decent pictures.
Headed down the road I felt relieved to get out of there. What a waste of time. I know I should feel good about the good marks, but taking home a little piece of paper with scribbling on it just didnt seem very prestigious. Most of the birds I took were already proven champions, so I didnt have anything to prove, so to me it was a waste of time, gas, and money.
Now, onto what I found out later about this show. When you read this, if you are still with me, I know this is long, but if you are still with me, this explains a LOT!
First of all, I found out the show was put together haphazardly in a matter of weeks. Second of all, someone in the club that runs that show 'lost' 1500 dollars. Yeah, classy huh. Next, I found out that the judges they scraped up at the last minute had JUST gotten their judges license, so they werent even wet behind the ears. Totally inexperienced.
I talked with a friend of mine who's kids showed there, and she said when she asked the judge later what he deemed wrong with one of the kids birds his statement was,
"I just didnt like the bird". YOU DONT SAY THAT WHEN YOU ARE A JUDGE!!! You have to tell the fault in the bird according to the standard of perfection of that bird! Especially when kids are involved in learning! I was disgusted. She said even SHE could see the fault in the bird they picked for champion in the juniors, the back was not right on the bird at all. So, you see, all that I mentioned before, makes sense now. They didnt know what they were doing.
A lot of people you see at shows are not good sports and will complain because they didnt win. I promise you I am not one of those, and neither is she. We have just seen enough and been showing long enough we kinda know what is what. The judges are supposed to know much more than an exhibitor, but this time, that was not the case.
I have to honestly say, I wish I would have stayed home and took all of Saturday to prepare for Shelby's birthday party. I wouldnt have had to stay up past midnight preparing if I had stayed home. I was talked into the show with the notion I would be adding to my collection of plaques and trophies, and when that didnt happen, I was disappointed and pretty unhappy.
On a side note, I looked up some trophies online at trophydepot.com...and found some really nice trophies with chickens on top, really cool looking ones for anywhere between 5 and 10 dollars each. Engraving and shipping was free. So I dont see what the problem was. Bad planning, that was the problem, and lack of money, because someone felt they had to pocket 1500 dollars. The trophies they had were very cheesy and chintzy looking, bordering on ugly, some of them. Guess they got a deal, cause there were plenty of cheap looking ugly trophies.
Next entry I will have pictures and all about Shelbys birthday! A happier entry for sure!