Texas Report July 14-17, 2005

We arrived in San Antonio, Texas in the early afternoon on Monday after a long flight from Stockholm via Chicago. We had been away from home for 2 weeks already and had thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Sweden. We were scheduled to judge at some Specialties on Wednesday followed by four days of All Breed Shows. We arrived early and would spent the extra days in San Antonio doing some sightseeing and enjoying the Texas hospitality.

The shows are more commonly called the River City Cluster of Dog Shows and consist of an opening day on Wednesday of Specialties and 4 days of All Breed Shows sponsored by the Bexar County Kennel Club and the Austin Kennel Club. Thank heavens they were located in the spacious air conditioned Henry Gonzales Convention Center as the sunny beautiful south Texas weather with it's 100 degree plus temperatures was the forecast for the week. The club had booked us into the beautiful Hilton Palacio Del Rio located directly across the street from the convention Center. As well as being ideally located for the dog show it was also located in the main tourist area and in the famous San Antonio 'Riverwalk' district.

We checked into our hotel, unpacked, had a power nap and immediately began our Texas adventure by exiting the hotel lower lobby directly on to the famous 'Riverwalk'. The system of canals and rivers wanders around the downtown core and is well planned, constructed with wide sidewalks on either side and quaint archways to get from one side to another. The original canals and walkways were first opened in 1926 and since then the development on the 'Riverwalk' has been extensive. Not only have all the major hotels constructed facilities on the river, but every type of restaurant from Mexican to Texas Bistro is located there. There is also a multitude of shops selling everything from souvenirs to art. Along the way you could buy souvenirs from transient vendors, listen to the music of the Mariachi bands or just relax on the many benches watching the wildlife and various species of birds along the river. Another very popular attraction was the riverboat rides along the canals with running commentary of all the history of this colorful, carnival like setting.

We wandered around the 'Riverwalk' for several hours and stopped at a quiet riverside patio for a light snack and the compulsory 'Margarita' which we quickly adopted as our standard drink. There are several variations and flavours to enjoy and we reluctantly admit we tried everyone....several times in the following days. The next couple of days afforded us an opportunity to further explore the 'Riverwalk', the nearby Rivercenter Shopping Mall and take a couple of Riverboat rides....one during the day and a more romantic one after nightfall. We enjoyed the relaxation, shopping, great food and beverage. We also found time for a trip to the pool and the spa for a massage. The shortcomings of being a dog show judge which are primarily the travel, airports, security concerns were far from our minds as we enjoyed the perks of the profession.

On Wednesday evening we dressed up into our professional attire and walked over to the Convention Center to judge at the Specialties. The air conditioned venue was well organized, the rings spacious and stewards very professional. We were greeted by good friend and fellow Shih Tzu breeder Jeanette Stimpson who was also Show Chairperson for the Austin KC shows. She introduced us to Norman Gruber who was the Chairperson and President for the Bexar KC shows and John Lucas, the President of the Austin Club. We observed over the next few days that both of these clubs worked extremely well together and their efforts and those of their members are responsible for staging a well run exhibitor friendly event which has proved to be successful and popular and will continue to be so under their guardianship.

Over the next few days we were treated like royalty by the clubs. The judges lunches each day were culinary delights of several excellent local hot delicacies presented in a five star restaurant atmosphere complete with formal clad waiters. Definitely not your 'sandwich and soup' fair available at many shows. We enjoyed the camaraderie of several longtime friends and judges, as well as several new faces including Alvin and Bettie Krause, Chuck and Pat Trotter, Michele Billings, Sandra Goose Allen, Steve Keating, Houston & Toddy Clark, Donald Sturz, Lee Reasin, Dr. Edna Martin, Stanley Sohn, Luiz Silva from Brazil and Terry Nethercott from England.

The dogs were of varying quality with some breeds much stronger than others. We personally felt the Toy, Terrier and Working Groups to be the strongest. The eventual winners at the Best In Show level was the Pekingese, Ch Yakee If Only who won three and is owned by Kit Woodruff and shown by David Fitzpatrick and a lovely Airedale bitch Ch Oldiron Margaret River owned the Lindner and Terrydale kennels and shown by Peter Green won one.

On Monday we had an opportunity to do some serious site seeing and visit several main attractions in San Antonio. The highlight was the visits to the Mission of San Jose and the shrine at the famous 'Alamo'. Learning the history of the settling Texas from the Spanish Missions to the present day Texas was interesting and enlightening. We also visited several other attractions including Imax movie of Alamo, Hemisphere Park, the site of the 1968 World's Fair, La Villita an arts and crafts community and shops and Market Square, El Mercado. Our final dinner was at Boudros Texas Bistro on the Riverwalk. It came highly recommended as one of the best. We started with an unbelievable guacamole dip prepared right at the table and followed it with a delicious beef filet smothered in grilled vegetables. A fitting end to a fantastic visit to a special city.

The River City Cluster of Dog Shows is definitely a great group of shows to attend from both the exhibitor and judges point of view. Everyone enjoyed the well runs shows, with excellent judges ;)))))), large air conditioned venue with friendly club members and stewards. All of this in the beautiful city of San Antonio with the dog shows, hotels and restaurants situated in the middle of the main tourist area and Riverwalk district.


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Wenrick Reg'd
Wendy & Richard Paquette
Box 640, 411 St Agnes St W
Azilda (Sudbury) ON P0M 1B0
Tel 1-800-836-6661
Fax 1-705-983-5147
e-mail wenrick@wenrick.ca
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