Clumberfest 2015

The Story of the First Wiltshire Clumberfest in 2015
(taken from the Autumn Winter 2015 Clumber Clips)

The history of The Wiltshire Clumberfest began much earlier this year when I was talking to Tim, the owner of “Fairfields” (the site where I store my caravan) and I found out to my great interest that not only was “Scout Hut” a building owned by him that the Scouting Association used (I had assumed it was owned by the Scouts) but there was also 4 flat acres of grass he let out for events.

This knowledge was supplemented by the success I had seen at the Pembrokeshire Spin Party and the Wiltshire Spinfest and also the fact that at that time, the “Clumber Fun Day” for the last two years had been organised and cancelled on each occasion due to a lack of numbers (later the same happened again this year).

Thus the seed of the idea for Wiltshire Clumberfest was born.  Little did I know what I was letting myself in for…..

I found out from Tim that limited dates were available, so September 19/20 was Hobsons Choice!  At least in my experience September usually had good weather (although it did get dark early and could be cool/cold).  I needed to get the ball rolling and dates in people’s diary’s, so thanks to Pam’s (my daughter) Facebook skills the Clumberfest 2015 Event page was born!

The purpose behind Clumberfest was simple, raise as much money as possible for Clumber Health and Rescue funds.  One of the attractions (and fundraisers) at the Pembrokeshire Spin Party was the raffle and I have no hesitation in copying good ideas!  I had purchased a limited edition Clumber print at a club show, that it turned out was a duplicate to one we had already. That was our star prize.  I had nobbled Frank Kane at Three Counties and he’d signed a copy of his book “Judging the Gundog Breed”.  I then hit my first bureaucratic hurdle, to run a raffle officially it had to be registered. I approached the Clumber Spaniel Club Committee and it was agreed that they would support the raffle for the Clumber Spaniel Club (on the basis it was drawn at Clumberfest, not a “Clumberfest Raffle”. This was because I had kicked off Clumberfest without the committee’s support, so it wasn’t officially supported by the “club” (more later!))

I then found out I had to have the raffle registered by a Council and I had to use the Council where the club was officially located.  After a bit of wrangling it was agreed that as all the correspondence came to the Club Secretary (Eunice), the Chesterfield Council it had to be.  The Council (and Eunice and John Newsham) were very helpful and the licence for a “lottery” was agreed by the Licensing Committee. I then arranged for the raffle tickets to be printed. By now Pam had sourced a copy of “The Clumber Spaniel” by Rae Furness and Peggy Grayson and donated it to the raffle and also she paid for a pair of Phat Neck collars (one boy, one girl), Sue Fox donated a £20 Hyde Bark Treat voucher and Izzie Hurst a “Love’n Lilo Hamper”.  We were off and running!!!!  Raffle tickets were then distributed to committee members and others were caught at the next few Championship shows.  I also put details on Facebook and took some purchases through Paypal.

I now needed to work out what to do.  This was the first (ever!) so numbers were unknown.  We thought that unlike the Pembrokeshire Spin Party a walk (normally attended by 80-100 Spinone!) may not be as successful, so we decided to go for “Taster Sessions”; Lou Garton (Jabbawock Dog Training) offered “Rally-O” and Izzie Hirst  offered “Clicker 1” and Clicker 2”, I got in touch with Graham Constable, who works his Clumbers) and he offered a Working Demonstration.

Now, the next question, do we have a Fun Show or a Companion Show. My concern was that with a Fun Show, we may not have enough dogs turn up, with a Companion Show, where do we hold it and what if it is too popular!

We decided it was to be a Companion Show. To run a Companion Show at least 50% of the money raised has to go to a Charity or a Charitable cause.  100% of the money raised was offered to the Clumber Spaniel Club, this was turned down by a majority vote of the committee and they suggested it being given to the Kennel Club. In my view the Kennel Club gets enough money from various sources, so as my mother is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s I decided that a local support group would be a good choice, they were delighted to accept and offered to publicise the Companion Show in the Wiltshire area (as a post script – I gave them a donation of £200 that was raised from the Companion Show entries).

The forms were sent off and I soon had my Companion Show Licence.  Now the really hard work began!  Fine tuning the day’s activities, arranging the classes, judges and stewards for the Companion Show and all the other logistics required for an event of this nature (that I had never done before!)  Of course the primary activity was to get the word out and get people to come, it was advertised for people with pets, rescues, show clumbers, working clumbers and wannabe clumber owners (or any combination). In July I sent off details of Clumberfest and the Companion Show to Radio Wiltshire to give people a good head’s up of what was coming in September.

Now I started badgering the usual suspects for freebies! I got some very nice items from Nutriment, Eukanuba and Fish for Dogs. A local pet shop gave a £5 voucher for the tombola and I blagged a £20 voucher from “Proper Job” for items from their pet section for “Temptation Alley”.  A local company produced me some superb rosettes for “Best in Show” and a lovely lady through Facebook supplied me, free of charge, some vinyl centres with “Clumberfest 2015”on them so I could re-use some old rosettes (that may not sound a lot, but we had 26 classes and gave rosettes to 5th place in each class!)

Time was getting close, classes were filling up. Lou has also offered a “Ringcraft Class” on the Sunday morning (just before the Companion Show). People were starting to say they were coming, some were even camping! I started to make a list of what I needed, including insurance (as

I had decided to run this event without the official support of the Clumber Spaniel Club committee) oh and of course with campers – some portaloos! I also needed tombola items, stakes for the rings and a million other things.  Clumberfest was on the Friday – Monday, as it worked out the Tuesday and Wednesday was spent at an International Conference in London (not easy to get out of it as I was delivering a paper on the second day). I planned to work most of the Thursday, pop out and site the vans (Pam’s and mine) to give me a head start on the Friday and get something set up before the first campers appeared.  This was all thrown into chaos when I received an e-mail from BBC Wiltshire to come on the lunchtime show to talk about “The First Wiltshire Clumberfest” oh and bring a Clumber with you!

Putting the world to rights!
3 generations of Clumbers

We had a think and agreed, I decided to take Beckis as the ambassador of the breed. I also decided that we’d go to Swindon by train.  Beckis had never been on a train before. I needn’t have worried, he loved it and was as good as gold in the studio as well. He even sat in the presenter’s chair for a photo-shoot (much to the amusement of the adjacent studio).

Thursday evening, stress levels rising, van now packed and the flat surfaces in my office looking very empty….

It was now Friday, if I hadn’t got it, it was too late! The van was unpacked, the bar set up in the kitchen area of the workshop (must get the priorities right), the tea/coffee/sugar and finally the two caravans were set up. Midway through setting up the vans, my first guests arrived; Adrian, Lynn and the adorable 15 week old Hetty, who I was delighted to have as our first Clumber guest, they were soon followed by Nigel, Cathy and Monty in their caravan.   We had the makings of a party!  Later on Izzie appeared with Livia and Kalani and when she was seen struggling (and using a lot of Anglo Saxon) with the tent, us three gentleman assembled it for her!

Hettie – our first Clumber at Clumberfest!

It was a very pleasant (if not slightly chilly!) evening sitting around Nigel and Caths barbecue with my floodlight giving us illumination. We all retired at around 10.00pm.

We awoke to a very misty Saturday with very damp grass. Lou Garton arrived and “Rally-O” training was soon in full swing. This was soon followed by Clicker 1 with Izzie and all the time more campers were arriving, plus those who were staying in local hotels and B&Bs. We soon had a really nice number of Clumbers and owners, the  great thing about the site is that it was secure and a large number of the Clumbers were off lead and running around with rarely a cross word! The sun broke through around midday and we had a fine and dry rest of the day.

Rally – O Training with Lou Garton

Late Saturday afternoon a large group of us gravitated to Nigel and Caths’ caravan (again 🙂 and we sat there eating our barbecued meals washed down with alcohol putting the human and Clumber world to rights. Pet owners, working owners, wannabe working owners and me Pam and Izzie as the only show people.  There were some interesting topics, everyone agreed it has been a useful and interesting day and everybody had learnt a lot.

Sunday dawned misty (again) but the dew was much less. Pam and I had set up the rings for the Companion Show the previous day, but there was still a lot to do; set up all the paperwork, get all the materials (including rosettes and prizes) to the ring, set up the home made stall and the tombola.  As well as that cars had started arriving so I had car-parking duty, then I found the e-mail that was sent on Friday telling me that the catering van I had planned wasn’t coming due to a defective clutch!  Panic mode!!! No Catering!  My wife had just arrived with the first of our dogs and she went back home to get the other dogs as well as more tea, coffee, sugar, scones, jam and clotted cream and we started to sell teas/coffees as well as a selection of cake and cream teas!  There were some grumbles, but it did actually make a bit more money for the Club! The Companion Show was popular, just enough space for the parking and with two rings the judges and stewards were kept busy.  Unfortunately it ran on to about 14.00 which was an hour past the start of the Clumber Party. We had delayed Graham’s working demonstration until 14.00 so all the Clumber people could attend and very well attended it was too! Heather did a super job with the commentary and even got novices (owners and dogs) having a go – we will try (if Heather’s agreeable) to not only repeat, but extend the time for that next year (oh yes, there is a Clumberfest 2016).  Jackie Crawford then gave a brief talk to all those present about Exercise Induced Collapse and following that Barbara Weston gave a short plug for her Clumber Walks (asking for volunteers to suggest walks outside the Midlands!)

The party then began with Temptation Alley, get your dog from one end to the other in the fastest possible time, ignoring the distractions!

Temptation Alley
Almost made it….

The winning time (and Clumberfest Record) I believe is just over 1.6 seconds! A brief halt was made to announce the winners of the raffle and that an amazing £389 had been made through selling the tickets!  We’d ended up with 14 prizes and all went home very happy with their winnings! The late start to the party meant that people started drifting off and those who had work on Monday were making their way home.  All have said how much they have enjoyed it and were looking forward to the next one.

The final figure we raised on behalf of Clumber Health and Rescue was £726.52, which I am delighted with.  Next year of course we hope to do better.

We can draw many positives from the weekend:

  • People who attended the ringcraft class and then the Companion Show have now said they may do more showing;
  • People who took advantage of the “have a go” on the working demonstration may take it further with their dogs
  • One dog is now attending Obedience and Rally-O classes inspired by Clumberfest.
  • Following the interview with Radio Wiltshire we had people turn up to find out more about Clumbers and also people had the opportunity to decide if Clumbers were the dog for them.
  • New friendships between Clumber owners.

Believe it or not, this is an abridged version, I haven’t covered the “Homemade Stall” with the “Russian Roulette” area, the Dutch Sjoelen game (highest score wins £10), the quiz night (how many dogs do you think have appeared in Dr Who?) and many more things that happened.

Of course, the easiest way is to join us next year! You don’t have to have a Clumber, just a love of Clumbers, there’s lots of snoring shedding, slobber and of course plenty of Clumber love and kisses to be shared around.