Labrapalooza Duck Extravaganza!

November 14, 2017

By Jennifer Broome, Owner and LRC Nat’l Specialty Field Trial Chairperson

The odds were against us from the time I got the call from friend and LRC Nat’l Specialty Chairperson Tony Emilio. Tony asked if I would be the Chairperson for the field trial. He said that he was unsure if the LRC had ever hosted a field trial in conjunction with this event in New England, but would I accept the challenge? Wow did he set me up for a task! We began planning the field trial in November of 2016. From securing the grounds to building a committee, it was quite the undertaking. I had co-chaired a FT in the past for the Women’s FTC in Florida and that was already a very organized and well run yearly event where I simply went along for the ride and assisted. This event was big time! I was asked to run an event that in all likelihood probably could not happen. Why? Well, by October in New England most field trial Pros are already on their way south to follow the circuit. Nearing hunting season, many New Englanders are looking at days afield, not still running competitions. Those that are chasing trials may be looking for last minute points to qualify for the Retriever National Open. Add to that the Master National is about to take place in mid-October in Texas, and OH!…. did I mention that the Inaugural National Derby Championship was also to start around this time across the country. So, Jennifer, would you still be willing to try to plan this event even though there will probably be no one entering!!?? Uhhh, sure LRC!!! AARRGGHH!!!!!!

I moved on full steam ahead with a personal challenge to make this work! I collected Chairperson cheat sheets from Judy Rasmussen and others from their trials, I started to ask friends to help and business friends to donate. I assembled a committee of diehard dog people that I knew that I could rely on. Tony Emilio was my rock during this entire process. He was helpful, encouraging and there at every moment to help secure trial grounds and plan the event. Fred Campo was a great source of knowledge and assistance as well!

Well, I felt like we put the cart before the horse for much of the planning. Would we even get entries?! Should we just host a derby/qualifying? How many volunteers would we need? Did we have the funds to hire bird throwers? How would we pay expenses? Lyn Yelton was pretty against it from the start thinking that there was no way we could pull it off. While she may have started off kicking and screaming at the beginning, she turned out to be one of my biggest supporters, coaching me through the Chairperson’s duties and pushing me to work within a budget. Thank you Lyn!

I worked pretty tirelessly all summer getting my own clients, friends and dog lovers to commit to volunteering. I only signed each person up for half day shifts so they would not burn them out. I gathered a team of experienced bird throwers and secured their hotel room. Yay, they quit 3 days before the event, so I found an even more reliable team (Go Duck Platoon from NY!) and they were awesome! Richard Smith was my dedicated Gun Captain who dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s. He had a GREAT team. Mike Coutu was my Head Marshal with Annemarie Poole assembling the best ever marshaling help, and Lois Gebrian our wonderful secretary (but you do owe me one Lois since you could not attend the event, I learned on the fly how to record results, have the judges sign the books and organize all that paperwork).

One of the most stressful things about this event was not knowing until the closing date only 2 weeks before the trial if we were even going to HAVE a trial! Low and behold, I watched Entry Express in the days up to the closing. From 1 entry, then 2 more, then another 3. I was up sweating bullets the night of the closing. At 11:30 we had built a nice Open with 45 entries, 52 Amateurs, 22 Qualifying…but OH NO… only 9 derby dogs! (We needed 10 to run a derby). There HAS to be 10, we already ordered the ribbons and placement awards. UGH! Then came a true show of sportsmanship. Betsy Broyd saw our situation and entered her pup. Only problem…the pup was in Wisconsin in training for the upcoming Derby National the following week. Betsy was going to have her dog transported JUST for our trial, then turn around and transported to Missouri for the National Derby. She entered…we had 10 pups! I was so excited, we had ourselves a trial! Now for the mad rush to begin finalizing stuff. Food, dinners, ducks, helpers, schedules, grounds, equipment and more.

The first glitch, emergency, and major decision came quickly. I got a call Sunday night, 2 days before the trial that a derby dog came into season and would be scratching. Oh no!!!!! Betsy’s pup was already in transport from WI and somewhere in Ohio. She heard of the scratch and had the driver turn the pup back to WI. By Monday morning I was challenged with the decision how to proceed. By 2pm I got word from the LRC that while we could have had other options, we were now down to 8 pups and it would be best to cancel. So, sadly our derby was canceled. I was now happy that I had Brenda Little with Lucky Labs NOT include the dates on the beautiful wood cutting board trophies!

Other than that, the entire 3 day trial went along pretty flawlessly! The Qualifying used new grounds at a lovely farm in Pomfret, CT and they finished in 1 day. Well done judges Lyn Yelton and Bruce Hall!

The Open judges Fred Campo and Craig Stonesifer DVM devised lovely tests on our ‘quaint’ New England grounds. Tight and clever, the tests were impressive and they completed in 2 days. Good work guys!

Amateur judges Fran Smith DVM and Grayson Kelley also used the grounds nicely and got some great results with their tests and finished by 2pm on Thursday. Well done!

A special thanks to the generous donations from our sponsors for the event: Cabela’s, Garmin, Purina, Scranton Power Sports (donated use of new Polaris UTVs), Savage Arms and Federal Ammunition, Zuse Inc (logo/screen printing) as well as the land owners Dr. James Dean and Dr. John Modica.
A very special thanks to ALL of those that helped and competed, and a big congratulations to the competitors that placed!

Open: Jenny Grasse 3rd, Ed Forry (not pictured 4th) Dolores Smith 2nd, Elaine VanBriggle 1st. Judges Craig Stonesifer, Fred Campo and Chair Jennifer Broome

Amateur: Grayson Kelley (judge) Mark Menzies 1st, 2nd and 3rd! Fran Smith (judge) Bill Brownstein 4th, Jeff Lyons jam, Dolores Smith Jam, Bob Graham jam and Chair Jennifer Broome

Qualifying: Linda Berkeley-Weiss 1st, Jack Crawford 2nd, Ed Hurley 3rd and Joey Mead Edsall 4th.