CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The Canfield Fairgrounds will be home to thousands of dogs this weekend as part of the Steel Valley Cluster.
“It’s really well run, beautiful spaces, lots of people staying for the entire time, which is really fun,” said Christi Gable, of Richfield.
Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, one of the biggest dog shows in the country made its way to Canfield, they just didn’t allow any spectators. But now, the show is back again and the public is welcome to go out and watch.
As of Wednesday, the bathing, styling and showing were already underway at the Canfield Fairgrounds.
“We’ve got people from New York, we’ve got people from Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, California — all over the country,” said Phil Thomas, coordinator of Steel Valley Cluster.
The annual dog show officially begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday. Organizers expect 2,000 dogs on Saturday alone, along with motor homes all over the grounds and more than a dozen vendors.
“We call this a spray-up, so we go line by line through the hair and kinda get it to stand up,” said John Riegler, of Cleveland.
Riegler owns an 18-month-old standard poodle named Nina and started coming here last year.
“It’s a nice, open air… nice, big fairgrounds. It’s run really well. They always seem to have good judges as well,” Riegler said.
When the show first came to the Canfield Fairgrounds back in the 1960s, there was just one big tent for all of the shows. This year, there will be 25 tents and rings.
For many of the handlers and owners, just the process of traveling from show to show and then getting their dogs ready can be a full-time job.
“It’s an all-encompassing and really, really attractive… It’s sort of like living sculpture on some level, but it’s like an awesome pet that you get to love and hug,” Gable said.
Because of the pandemic, last year’s event did not permit any spectators. This year, there are extra precautions.
“We are still trying to keep as much of it outdoors as we can. We are not using many buildings,” Thomas said.
The show gets underway each morning at 8 a.m. and the cost to get in is just $5 a car.