In a perfect showing world...

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Nov 30, 2002
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What would you as an exhibitor like to have from the sponsoring club in the way of hospitality? What would make you fell really welcome and comfortable? Please give us your ideas.
Our club, at a show, has a free refreshment table. Our announcer is pretty awesome too. Didn't know me, but announced after I won a class that I was a new member of the club. I felt like that was pretty neat and made me feel welcomed. Everyone in our clubs are pretty nice and greet everyone.

During the off season, our clubs hold clipping clinics and generally mini care maintence clinics. This is a great way for newbies to learn about the proper care and showing of minis. We also have a luncheon during that time. Around Christmas, we have a christmas party and awards banquet.

Just member involvement going out of their way to help a new person with showing is the best way to welcome anyone into the club. Ask them if they would like to get involved in the club. Such as helping at a show, youth projects, etc. Asking someone if they want to help out is a great way for them to learn how the club runs and feel part of it. Not all people want to volunteer their time, but some do.
At every show the Northwest Miniature Horse Club has a hospitality table with pictures from the club, flyers about the club, and applications to join. During the morning hours, the club has a table with coffee, tea, and donuts available for free.

In the two months prior to the beginning of the official show season - with sanctioned shows - the club sponsors a learning clinic over a weekend, and on another weekend a full schooling show is hosted - which is open to ALL miniature horses - registered or grade. There's also an awards banquet at the end of the season.
As an exhibitor, and in the perfect world, I think the best thing you could do is provide a group of qualified volunteers to run your show. (Like I said, perfect world, as I know ANY volunteers are few and far between) I say this because anyone who shows knows the stress and frustration that goes with it. I always seem to be running late and in a hurry...trying to check in and I look over and my horse has a dirty leg, not to mentions I've just gotten grass stains on my pants, ect, ect. I really like it when the administrative process is quick and easy. Check in goes quick. If I have a questions, someone will know the answer, rather than guessing or having to ask 40 other people while I stand there waiting. All courses would be posted and easily viewed in plenty of time. And the judge would be qualified to judge what they were judging. Parking that isn't 5 miles away from everything is always nice. Cardboard numbers with wire hanger things instead of paper numbers with string. A porto-potty with an air freshener and toilet paper. Pens that work at the registration table. Mowed grass. Enough parking so that my horses bum isn't rubbing against the neighbors trailer. Access to water(because no matter how much I bring I always find I need more) An announcer who enunciates and speaks loudly. A ribbon hander-outer who knows horses a little, so they don't come running at my horse with a big scary ribbon. If you use a hoola hoop in your halter obstacle classes, remember those taller horses with the long necks. You did ask what it would be like in a PERFECT world right?? The list goes on and on.........

Don't worry, exhibitor's are just happy to have a place to show, and we know that the people running it do the best they can
The Mid America club puts out a big tub full of bottled water, always a hit on those hot summer days. Sometimes if we have sponsors, coffee and donuts in the morning, cheese or peanutbutter crackers in the afternoon. One year, we had loads of individual bags of munchies which was awesome.
20 Things I learned as a Show Manager

1) have a show staff that is helpful, not mean, or have decided they have better things to do. They should quickly process you through the check in, are able to answer questions and give good directions to stuff in the arena and around the area.

1A) Your show secretary and show manager are not the same person. If you have a show that has less than 75 horses, one show secretary can handle that. If it is over 75 horses, get another show secretary to help. That way they can give each other breaks too later.

2) Stalls - chart marked with stall assignments as well as each stall door has clearly marked owner's last name.

3) Carts for people to cart their tack and other stuff into the stall area from trailers, and people to help them cart their stuff in.

4) Shaving bags waiting to be opened or opened as they are bringing their stuff in by the show staff.

(Hint - hire kids to do the running, but make sure they are polite and listen, most people don't like their stuff handled by strangers, but if kids are polite and listen to how they want something done, it goes smoothly. Exhibitors figure out it is a good thing. The show manager should be around to manage them).

5) A Show Announcer that knows about the club, its history and the people in the club. Before the show starts, the show announcer and manager should walk around and get a tid bit from each exhibitor or family exhibiting that they can use as a little introductory story or funny story in dead zones or at ribbon presenting. Also the announcer should have a music selection ready for play in dead zones of the show.

5a) Make sure you have a happy steward with an attendant. You need a happy friendly steward for the exhibitors. The steward needs a person who can vouch for what they measure / write down as they direct and run for stuff. If your steward is welcoming - then exhibitors will be happy. ALSO - post in rules or at each stall section the directions for getting your horses measured. If they have to fill out their own cards, then let the exhibitors know!

6) Either a coffee table set up that has free coffee or a welcome dinner. Many rush to come in after they finish work. This is tricky because you are dealing with food. But sandwiches in a refrigerator or pizza or chili something a single person can handle. And then the show secretaries can give directions and directions can be put on the fridge or table.

7) Treat your judges like royalty. Have an attendant just for them. If you keep your judges happy, watered and fed, they are amazing in their work and can endure longer days.

8) At the beginning of each day, please list the classes that day with how many horses are in them. Only if you have time and staff can you update during the day. Also announce breaks, but don't break in the middle of a session, wait for the session to end.

9) If you can afford it have a photogrpaher available. Not a really spendy one, just one who can capture good moments of the show. Local shows 8 X 10's $20-25 a pic is not bad.

10) Make sure you have a good gate person, actually two - that person should be able to set up two classes after the class they just put in the arena. Your gate person needs to warn people or grab people to make sure they are in their class.

10A) Go ahead and spend the $300 and get a good walkie talkie set for each show official, show manger, show secretary, gate people, ring steward and back barn help. It's a private channel and you can talk amongst yourselves and help the show along.

11) Make sure your judges have a ring steward who is fun. But they must also understand how the judges want horses set up and when the class is closed, to look at cards and know that the numbers the judges wrote down are the numbers in the class they just judged. Make sure show officials can get at their meals readily and that they have a room set away from everyone else for them to have down time.

11A) Make sure you have chairs for the judges to sit down on while waiting for classes to set up. Make sure the chairs are ported around the arena for the judges when they want to sit to judge a class, like obstacles or jumping.

11B) Make sure for the classes that need props set up, there is adequate help and that the help can read the patterns and directions and make sense of them. Have a run through with the show staff of setting up the obstacle courses and jumps, etc. before the show. You would be surprised at how quickly you can run class changes then.

12) Make sure the show manager is free and is moving around talking with people, listening to concerns or just stories someone has to say, even children. If the show manger is not free to do that, changes can not be made quickly, or trouble cannot be averted quickly. Show manager should give breaks to the show staff.

13) Put a youth activity table up near the arena so parents can see their kids. Then man it with a fun kid friendly person. Have an activity that the kids can work or play together with. Provide a prize for the best product of that activity. Keeps kids engaged and parents at ease knowing where their kids are, because they can glance over and see them!

14) Instruct all show staff to be on alert for happenings and accidents - even judges can help. There is many a time I have seen judges just sit tight and watch something play out, when they were the closest to the horse and exhibitor. I have also seen many a show where everyone was on alert and two very bad accidents in the making, shut down quickly and no one got hurt, including the horses.

15) Make sure you have a couple ribbon presenters. If your classes are large and you do ribbons down to 6th or 10th place - have one do the even numbers and one do the odd numbers when presenting. If you only have one person, make sure you coach the exhibitors in how they should get their ribbons. If they are to walk by the ribbon table and get them, great, let them know. If they are to drive by and get, great let them know. If the ribbon presenters are to walk to them, make sure they can read the exhibitors numbers!

16) Make sure bathrooms get cleaned twice a day - this seems trivial, but believe me from both ends of the experience - if I am tired, I don't want to have to deal with a dirty bathroom, no toilet paper, no paper towels and an overflowing garbage can.

17) Each staff member should keep their ears open, listen for suggestions and write them down and put in a bucket for after the show. Also show members should graciously accept written suggestions and let the exhibitor know they will look at them after the show.

18) Check the back barn and stall area speakers. Be careful, when the barn is empty it usually sounds great. If you can go to a show ahead of your show and mill around in the back area and listen to the speakers, then you can have the owners adjust accordingly. If the speakers are crackly and not clear, make other arrangements.

19) Announce classes, and if there are empty classes, make sure it is announced a few classes ahead of time.

As an exhibitor, and in the perfect world, I think the best thing you could do is provide a group of qualified volunteers to run your show.
In a perfect world this is very important. Nothing can be more stressful for all when your show staff has no idea how shows run or has no experience in showing themselves. It makes everything take longer. The little things that can make a difference in a smooth show really can simply be working with staff that has been there done that and has an idea what to do and expect.
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A good happy gate man or woman. Nothing is worse than a gate person with an attitude!
I completely agree about a good gate keeper! At my very first show, I was about to go into the ring and I guess I looked terrified. The man at the gate asked me if I knew what to do - I told him "I didn't have a clue!!!". He laughed out loud and told me "that's ok, none of us do - just follow the person in front of you and enjoy yourself". That helped alot, but I was still terrified!
As someone that has managed shows, I agree with everything Muffntuf said with one addition. There is nothing that bothers me more--as a manager--than having a disgruntled show person yelling at my help. Usually it is not the helper's fault. Quite often it is actually the fault of the show person themselves--but we won't go there. I have made it a point to tell every exhibitor that if they have a problem with my help, to come to me and I will take care of the problem as best I can. If you tick-off my help--where will I get new people at the show????

We, as managers can only do so much. Most of us do all we can to make it fun--with different extras at different shows. Quite often the mowed grass issue--for instance--is not something we can easily fix. A gate hold or emergency few minutes--especially for new people--is something we can do even if we must limit the number of times because of the length it adds to the day, but we all try to work with the exhibitors--especially when they try to work with us.

Oh, and we show also, so we can see it from both sides.


Where to park

Which way is the show office

Where are the shavings

Where are the restrooms

where are stall charts so I can get my stalls ready and my horses off that trailer

Where are water faucets

where are wash racks

where is a concession stand

I don't know how much time I waste at shows in a facility new to me trying to find just the basics.


The best way I know of to guarantee a great show:

Hire Mark Bullington as announcer and Sharon Bullington as show steward. They are quite simply the best.

Having someone friendly, reassuring and helpful at the gate is huge. I don['t know his name, but the

gate manager (or whatever you would call him) at the Oregon State Fair is wonderful -- like having your big brother there to look out for you.

A couple of suggestions:

How about some fresh fruit instead of (or in addition to) the donuts?

I don't know if this is possible, but it would be nice if sending in your entry early meant not having to stand in line with all who didn't pre-register.

Some shows hand out a bag of goodies when you check about including a trial-size pack of baby wipes?

It really helps to know what class is in the ring when you get to the gate. A dry-erase board or at least a print-out of the schedule helps relax exhibitors and lessen the questions for gate managers.

In addition to the formal volunteers, it would be nice at club shows if someone made a point of seeking out the newbies, answering questions and introducing them to others. Ideally this Of course, we can all help by watching for that "deer in the headlights" look...even a smile goes a long way.
In a PERFECT world, my wish, aside from much of what has been mentioned (we are LUCKY here in the NW with the Bullingtons, our retired show manager LaVon now replaced by Barbara Hento), our stewards/gate personnel, etc. already.

What would be to me a GREAT help is to have one volunteer to be available for every three "newbies" that would be at their first/or early on in their career of showing. Someone available to answer questions, to help them locate what they need and most of all make them comfortable as they arrived and take out some of that overwhelming feeling we all got when we first set foot at our first show.

Our club sets out hospitality tables, and along with donuts, coffee, hot water, at the upcoming show (Sea Tac), there is a breakfast held, and often dinners are part of some of the local clubs' welcome/thank you to exhibitors and staff. The membership really drives these things.

At HOT shows, a cooler full of ice water is much appreciated and might just keep the ambulance away as we all stand waiting for our classes in HOT clothing and running around more than usual.

Also, good, clear sound systems are just mandatory. Otherwise, everyone feels stressed when they don't know the class schedule and how it's running/forewarning for the classes and notation of break and lunch times to help us plan how to prepare our horses and not make everyone wait or miss our classes.

Hahaha I don't want much, do I?

The Mid America club puts out a big tub full of bottled water, always a hit on those hot summer days
The little bottles - about 4 ounce - are perfect. Just enough to quench my thirst without having to worry about where to put the rest of the bottle or feel guilty about throwing half a bottle away.

TEA - HOT TEA -- most shows always have coffee in the morning, but I'm a tea drinker and not many shows have hot water and tea bags.

Our local shows are great, and do lots of nice things, but I've seen a few on this thread that would be nice to be incorporated. The goodie bag would be a neat surprise
For me, just a sincere, friendly smile goes a LONG way
And the more organized the show booth, the better, too.
Thank you all for your very helpful and insightful suggestions. We will try to implement as many as we possibly can with a big southern hospitality smile on our faces. Please come and join us at the Tennessee Miniature Horse Celebration. It will be lots of fun for everyone!
The biggest thing that would make my show experience less stressful would be a board letting exhibitors know which class is in the ring. I am sure this is the most asked question of a gate person. I feel like I always have to be on edge about not being late to the class, and this would help alot.
An accomodating and knowledgable staff to help with the show. If the show runs smoothly and I'm not showing until 2am, it's a good thing!

Edited to say - a really energetic, patient, passionate and fun judge doesn't hurt! ;)
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ditto!!! A smiling, calm Gate person.....

I LOve our east coast gate person. I don't know how he smiles

ALL day!


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