Author Topic: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast  (Read 25699 times)


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2012, 04:13:46 AM »
As a competitor that does 4 different agility venues, first and foremost NADAC has always been one of my favorites.   I usually drive a max of two hours to go to any venue and I generally pick an indoor trial (which includes horse arenas) due to my having a debilitating disease because the footing is better and the "ground" is level.   I can't afford to fall due to uneven ground, mud, etc.   I also have a dog that will jump ring fences (most outdoor trials the fences aren't high enough for me to make sure she doesn't jump them), and yes, before we go off on that tangent it is a training issue, but it's a MAJOR reason for my doing indoor trials.   I also am still competing with my 13 year old husky cross and with her double-coat she obviously doesn't handle the heat well. so indoor climate controlled venues (no matter which) are a blessing.  Her career is winding down and if I can let her play in one class a day, I will most definitely pick an indoor venue over an outdoor venue.


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2012, 08:08:31 AM »
I am a helper of one of the clubs in the Northeast who do mostly indoor trials. Indoors is what the customer wants and two other venues are running in the same outdoor facility most of the summer. In order to give people what they want, this club, with forward thinking and risk started to invest into the indoor facility which was not exceedingly popular at the time they started. Has it been easy.. no.

There are two venues that are VERY strong in our area and one could just say our numbers are dropping, and they were, and do nothing about it. It is within your ability to facilitate change. To attract people to your venue and not your destiny.
To those on this thread who are concerned that your numbers are down.. etc I say this. What have you done to positively impact your number growth? Not just advertise but to get people excited about wanting to come to your event?

The fact that people will not travel over 2+ hours is as much a quality experience to a destination as it is about gas $$$$! After that 2+ hour point that money could be going to paying other trial fees! I used to travel all over New England and the New York area but that was when gas was at $2.00 a gallon.

I, like others, have to pick and choose trial sites because of mine and my one dog's physical concerns. I also choose sites where my success rate is reasonable. That means I might like it but the surface or weather in that area is so bad that it doesn't make sense. Or more importantly.. the camping was not good and or I did not care for how the club ran the trial and or their attitude. I have trialed in 4 venues and I will make the choice not to attend any trial if I did not have a good experience. This has always been my highest criteria.

I also love dirt sites and will be back to any venue who offers S.Glaustonbury,Ct or any other dirt site which is as good or better then field turf. One of my dogs doesn't do well at all outside and would not be trialing if it were not for indoors. But there in lies a key answer. There are many disabled, older handlers, dogs who are now able to compete who can now because of the inside offerings.. how cool is that? Do I still attend outside.. yes.. but need to pick and choose and may just make a donation that weekend :-))
Deb Totten


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2012, 09:42:34 AM »
In San Diego we only have one indoor trial a year and I love the freedom of not lugging a canopy to that trial!  Still, when the weather's so beautiful outside it's hard to beat the fresh air and sunshine (though we did have to contend with a rattlesnake last weekend!).

For a while, I felt as though NADAC was dying in this area, but I'm happy to report that our last 2 trials have had outstanding attendance.  What's caused this turnaround?  Some might think it's because Champs is somewhat local this year, but I think it's mainly because we now have a teacher in tthe area who teaches NADAC distance skills and whose venue preference is NADAC.  It's thrilling for her students to have success on the Chances courses and to see her nail bonus lines with her dogs.  Her students have a mentor at NADAC trials, someone they can turn to for advice and someone who is interested in their success.  I think that affects one's overall trial experience and has people returning for more of a good thing.
Ronni in San Diego with Scooter, Ollie & Xtra Crispy (R.I.P. Sage)


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2012, 11:58:30 AM »
OK, call me a weird duck; but due to my own health issues, the age and/or health issues of my dogs and/or my disdain for artificial surfaces indoors, I've HAPPILY resigned myself to the fact that none of my kids will accumulate much in the way of "alphabet soup", nor will they achieve a "major" title in NADAC . . . yeah?  Soooooooooooooo???

I and mine are TOTALLY content to play NADAC agility style games in our yard; and then fire up the BBQ grill . . .

When we DO choose to attend a trial, the most that our kids generally do is one or two runs per day. 

When we DO trial, we do so as a mini-vacation for us and our kids . . . so maybe it's 3-4 times/year. 

If we feel as though we and the kids need a break and there's a trial close that may be indoors on "fake stuff" or have a "negative ambiance", we and our dogs know how to adapt to those surfaces and how to avoid toxic people . . .

Then there are those trials that we choose because we LIKE the ambiance of the trial, like renewing old friendships and establishing new ones . . . and we really DON'T care about the price of petrol or the price of a motel room for a night or two . . .

It seems that agility, like so many other things today, is a two-class "society" . . . thems what has . . . and thems what doesn't . . . and thems what has are beginning to sound A LOT like "The 1%" . . . we have more, we want more and we aren't willing to share with those that may be struggling . . .

Yeah, I remember the earliest days of agility in this country . . . when it took 2-3 "sort of clubs" to put on a trial and everybody pitched in, there's was reasonably priced food on site and a raffle . . . all ways to ensure that when EVERYTHING was pooled together, there was ONE more penny in income than there was in expenses . . .

. . . and then folks got GREE-DY . . . and decided to try to turn agility into a profitable business and personal income . . . so they didn't have to have a "real job" . . .

. . . and that's where I believe it started to fall apart . . . way before the indoor/outdoor issue even became a factor . . . 

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Erin Wajda

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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2012, 04:31:57 PM »
Wow Cheryl.  I guess you unknowingly opened up a big can of worms!    :)  We do strive to offer fun, low stress trials and we will continue to do so as long as people come to play.  I will also continue to do my best to support the other local clubs that are hosting NADAC trials. 

Erin Wajda
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Erin Wajda
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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2012, 07:27:39 AM »
To those on this thread who are concerned that your numbers are down.. etc I say this. What have you done to positively impact your number growth? Not just advertise but to get people excited about wanting to come to your event?

This is a good question.  At my club's show, we do a lot.  We work hard to put on a fun, laid-back show (and I think we succeed!).  We have an awesome worker's raffle every year, vouchers for $ of your next show for every worker, lots of High in Trial prizes (overall, rescue, BC, non-BC, vet, etc.), a great worker's hospitality room with snacks, a nice venue with tons of crating space, special gifts for junior handlers, awesome judges, opportunities to recycle old ribbons through Ribbon Recycling (a great program), and more...  Trust me, we do a lot to make our show a fun, awesome show.  We are also the only NADAC show in the Austin/San Antonio area all year.  We advertise our show and what makes it special through Facebook (ours and other clubs), and various Texas agility lists.

Yet, numbers still drop.  I don't know why.  I wish I did.  =/

Wild Terriers

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Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2012, 07:39:34 AM »
Wow - lots of heated emotions here.  I'm sorry, but if running a club, or running trials is what someone chooses to do as a job, who am I to judge them?  This is still America isn't it?  No one place is going to be right for all dogs and/or all people, I believe that all of the places, surfaces, etc. are right for certain teams and not right for others.  I don't believe there is a club out there who is purely mercenary in their choice of site  - who knowingly chooses a bad surface because it will improve the bottom line.  I appreciate all who are willing to go to the time, trouble and expense to put on trials, because even if there is financial gain, putting on a trial is a labor of love.

To date I have run small dogs and they have LOVED artificial turf, run well on it and it has not been a safety concern for them, and when I was running Willowby - outdoors in the heat was not an option due to her heart issues, so I often chose and continue to choose indoors over outdoors and the reasons I have done that and still do it now are multiple, but the biggest one is, my dogs and I like it!   Call me a fair weather agility person or whatever, but last I checked I get to choose when and where I run and wherever I choose to run, I will always err on the side of safety, inside or outside - so I do resent the implication that by choosing to run on certain surfaces that I am being selfish and not considering my dogs, my dogs are now and have always been my FIRST priority . . . . .

I am very fortunate to have NADAC choices almost every weekend within a few hours of home and I am also lucky that the people in those clubs understand that sometimes real life prevents one from being able to commit to agility in advance and not one of the clubs that gets my money has ever made me feel as if i am being irresponsible or taking advantage for requesting to enter a trial late, whether the answer has been yes or no that they can take my entry.   Supply and demand is an important factor in areas with lots of trials, not to mention the other gazillion variables, and for those of us without an RV - cost and distance of lodging is a huge one - this economy sucks and I for one would prefer to spend my agility dollars on agility and not hotels. . . .

If I have a dog in the future who has safety issues with artificial turf, I will certainly choose what is right for that dog, as I realize that artificial turf is not a good choice for every dog - this is a team sport and I believe each member of the team should be safe and happy, but if only one member can be safe and happy, I want it to be my dog!!!!

Karen and the Wild Terriers
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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2012, 08:12:21 AM »
I'm a newbie...  to agility (I am working with my first agility dog) and to trialing.  I have a fun dog who sometimes has confidence issues but he's young and shows great potential.  I'm in the Northeast (NJ) and I am truly addicted to this sport and the fun I have with my dog.  I'd like to put in my comments if that's okay because I have a perspective of someone new to trialing with options to attend 6 different venues (NADAC, CPE, AKC, USDAA, even VALOR and UKI).  That's  A LOT of options....  So far I don't think we're *ready* for USDAA but I plan on entering my first AKC trial in August. 

I'm not rich but I do spend a lot of time and money on training.  I have the shed full of equipment thing and a yard to train and I take a ton of classes driving over an hour in some cases each way.  This is something I'm passionate about.  I'm also a competitive person.  My desire to compete has a lot of different aspects....  first of all, I feel that I have something to prove with my dog...  he's a death row gassing shelter rescue.  For him to do well makes him an ambassador for death row dogs out there...  secondly, I love the sense of accomplishment and the bond that I'm developing with my dog, I'm so proud of him....  third, I've made friends in agility and I love the social atmosphere of a trial...  and fourth, I have goals and titles I want to achieve because I'm naturally competitive in nature and achievement oriented.

What I LOVED about my first NADAC trial was the supportive attitude of the judge and the fellow competitors.  I had a blast and so did my dog.  The courses were fun and challenging.  I left wishing the trial was over three days instead of two.

What I LOVED about my first CPE trial was that same supportive attitude, the ability to close the ring gates because I'm a worry-wart and it was my dog's first trial (turns out he didn't need them closed but it gave me peace of mind).  I also loved that at Level 1 it was easy to Q.  He easily made course time and earned Q's even with course faults.  It gave me a sense of achievement and helped my confidence at this very new stage in trialing.

What I noticed at the NADAC trial was that probably 80% of the entrants were in the Elite classes.  There were only a handful in Open and a few in Novice.  I would ask the question about whether or not NADAC is attracting new competitors?  If not, why not?  I'm not convinced it's an indoor/outdoor thing.  My trial that I went to was indoors with awesome footing but entries were pretty low.

My dog is fairly fast and very athletic.  We are still green and we still have wide turns and an occasional loss of attention.  I really, really enjoyed our runs but from the perspective of a Novice dog owner I can say that Q'ing wasn't easy.  It wasn't impossible (I had a Q in Regular and a Q in Tunnelers on the second day).  I'll be back because I like the challenge of trying to make fast times with zero course faults.  But I have to wonder if this is part of the issue with getting new Novice handlers.  As far as I know, NADAC is the only venue that requires zero course faults along with very fast MCT's for Novice dogs.  Please don't read into this...  I'm NOT argueing for a change, just stating observations (my dog rarely drops a bar, our issue with course faults was in tough obstacle discriminations since my dog LOVES his Contacts).  However, we DID miss Q's in Jumpers and Touch n' Go on time faults.  We were 0.97 seconds over on Touch and Go and 0.26 seconds over on Jumpers (neither had any course faults).  Any other venue at his level, he still would have Q'd...  easily in fact with his YPS, would not have been over time.  I had a BLAST that weekend, but cost per Q was higher than other venues.

I train with several people.  One of which LOVES NADAC but doesn't compete because this individual wants to focus on AKC and USDAA.  Heavy trialing in more than 2 venues is hard to do when you're going for Championship level titles....  For a professional in an area where there is a lot of competition for students, a MACH or ADCH goes a long way to credibility (a NATCH would too of course but less people, newbies to the sport, will recognize the title).  Also, I would think getting a NATCH would take more time because there are WAY less NADAC trials in the area here.   I wouldn't blame a professional in this area for focusing on AKC and USDAA (most in this area do).

I live in an area where there are lots of indoor and outdoor trialing opportunities.  My dog prefers indoors but I'll do some outdoor stuff too.  We don't have a lot of NADAC trials in the area but the ones we do have are indoors and outdoors at nice locations.  I'm not really sure that indoor/outdoor is an issue.  All of the venues here have trials both indoors and outdoors and if NADAC is suffering in this region then it leads me to believe that it's due to other factors.

The simple truth of the matter is that all venues compete for the same entries.  A handler and dog can only be in one place at one time.  The economy is touch and gas is expensive. With so many choices in a trial rich location as the Northeast, competition for entries is tough.

Each venue seems to have a different niche and different "stereotypes" (much of this is based on my impression from other people since I'm new to trialing...  please keep that in mind):

USDAA: international type handling required, jump heights require athleticism, emphasis on progression of the novice pair up the levels, accomplishments hold status in international circles

AKC: status in a MACH but course times mean that you can keep Q'ing if you're consistent and you don't need a BC to do well.  Novice titles not too difficult to attain, big flowing courses, friendliness of competitors is so-so and there is grumbling when the courses are difficult. HARD to place because of huge class sizes so it's all about the Q.

CPE: very friendly, great for beginners, titles very achievable.  although no training is allowed in the ring, there is tolerance for dogs with some challenges (like mild reactivity...  ability to close gates gives reassurance), fun games

NADAC: very friendly and supportive, fun challenging courses, fun very different games, fast course times with tough Q'ing requirements, no tolerance for mild reactivity in dogs, low jump heights, obstacles on course require special training that is not introduced in most agility classes, great for dogs who don't like the teeter, some training allowed in the ring

UKI: very new, not may trials.  I don't know much about it but will try an event in July for the experience.  From what I understand, the courses are more international in handling styles, good practice for USDAA prep

VALOR: very new but we have an established group in NJ.  GREAT for dogs who are not capable of trialing at the other venues and great for practice with a dog who will eventually be competitive in other venues (group is growing steadily because it caters to a group of dog owners who have no other options...  venue has been life changing for my Standard Poodle)

So I guess what I'm saying is that different venues appeal to different people.  I think what this means in the Northeast is that NADAC is mostly attracting people who have been running in NADAC for some time and who have developed strong friendships along the way.  I think NADAC is struggling to attract the new novice competitors (whose trainers are probably running AKC and/or USDAA).  Beginners in this area tend to get their feet wet in CPE.  Lots of available trials and the early titles make you come back wanting more.

That's my perspective as a Novice competitor in the Northeast.  It's NOT meant as a criticism in ANY way.  I love NADAC and will continue to trial in NADAC but because of where I live I have a lot of options and we'll have to see how it all plays out in what trials I enter in the future....  In the meantime I'm just enjoying the experience and I'm looking forward to my next NADAC trial in a couple of weeks!



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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2012, 08:32:40 AM »
This thread raises a few questions...

DISCLAIMER: this not intended to be about venue bashing/defending but rather trying to look at improving entry numbers for outdoor agility trials.

Are there fewer outdoor trials being offered now?
Is the decline in entries only at outdoor trials?
Based on this thread's posts, weather concerns seem to be driving competitors indoors. Are there other concerns "pushing" exhibitors indoors?
Is this unique (outdoor trials entries declining) to NADAC or are there similar declines in other venues?
How do we get competitors back to outdoor trials?

Would love to get some thoughts on these questions if anyone has some insights to share...
Thanks y'all!

Outdoor trials were the norm when I started in agility 10 years ago in NE Illinois.  Since most of the trial grounds were within 45 minutes of my home, it didn't really matter to me if the weather was crummy since I knew I had only a short drive back to the creature comforts of my home.  However, I now live NW Illinois where the closest trials are 70 miles away, plus I'm 10 years older.  There is just no way I would enter an outdoor trial any more.  Although I train outdoors, it's in my backyard and if the weather sucks, I can take consolation in the fact that I'll only be outside for 10-15 minutes.  Sports turf and air-conditioning make for perfect running conditions no matter what mother nature might be throwing at us.  Crating can be tight, especially at AKC trials, but it's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make.

Rose Kirwan

bill fehn

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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2012, 01:10:21 PM »
I have never done many trials (1-2 a month at the most) and only once traveled over an hour to a trial.  This year I have radically decreased the number of trials we are doing. My dog and I love agility and do it almost every day.  I just don't like getting up early and spending all day at a trial to do six or less runs.  I have no desire for the social aspect of a trial. Maybe it is the male thing.  I prefer to get there, run my dog, and leave. There are enough local trails that I could do one or more almost every weekend.  There are 20 trials over the next 3 months within an hour of my home. Five of the trials are NADAC. I will do one.  It is a personal choice. I just rather play at home. 

Indoor versus outdoor is another personal choice.  My overall view is why go outside when there is a perfectly good building I can be in.  If I am going to do something for fun why be miserable while doing it. I hope to never do another outdoor trial or one in a non-climate controlled building.  A friend called me spoiled.  I won't argue with her.

For those that are concerned about safety, outdoor trials are not without risks. Dogs have been blown off dog walks etc. My dog slipped making a turn on wet grass and totally wiped out a jump. He was not injured but could have been.

I wish NADAC and all the other organization the best and hope they all continue and grow.   What would get me to do more trials? Greatly reduce the time between my runs. If I could drive 10 minutes, arrive at noon and leave at 4, I would do more trials.

Bill Fehn


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2012, 07:57:50 AM »
I am a customer of the group in the NE who have moved their trials indoors and a member of Act-up the club that Michelle is the trial secretary for.
The first year I trialed with them everything was outside, I enjoyed the environment but my heat sensitive Border Collie hated the summer, and although game he was not happy running in the freezing rain.....If this was are only choice dam right we would still be going...
Since moving indoors we have been able to compete all summer long, and both my dogs run well on the field turf, and yes being outside is lovely but it is hard to beat nice bathrooms, wifi, and really effective ac/heat. My only regret is that soccer rules in the winter and there is no agility there during the winter months.
I am also one that will not travel much further than 2 hours, and will no longer enter an outdoor trial as I have a limited budget and want to make sure that my dogs are happy, and safe. Unlike some other opinions I feel my dogs are safer running on field turf than wet grass and wet equipment. The other aspect is the condition of Adicted to Agility's equipment which is immaculate because it never goes outside.
I should also add that due to distance I would not be attending those smaller NE trials that started this conversation even if they were held indoors.


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2012, 10:43:11 AM »
I'm glad that everyone who wants to run indoors has that choice, but it is getting to the point where those of us who prefer to run outdoors don't really get that choice anymore.  Maybe we just need to be more vocal, which is why I'm chosing to travel to outdoor trials instead and just deciding not to do some of the local indoor trials. 

I personally won't run my dogs indoors on mats unless that is the only choice I have for many months, which might happen in the winter when horse arenas aren't heated and soccer facilities are being used for soccer.  Sorry if my "judgement" offended anyone, but I've always been told that running on mats is not the best option for the dog.  I'm sure some of the slower dogs or smaller don't have as much of a problem with it, but I've always run 20/20+ dogs and even with the better mats these days I don't feel that there is enough substance to grip for turns.

Gina Pizzo


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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast
« Reply #42 on: June 11, 2012, 03:37:55 PM »
I have been playing agility since 2001 and back then most of the trials were held outdoors in the spring, summer and fall.  I've ran in terrible rainy conditions and super hot and dry conditions, neither of which I like.  Maybe it's my age, but I don't have the energy some days to drive to an outdoor trial and set up a tent only to have the weather be terrible all weekend long, then haul it all back to the car again on Sunday.  This past weekend was very hot for me to run in, but I managed and had a blast!  Would I do it again next weekend...NO.

I also trial a deaf dog, who had her very first outdoor trial last weekend.  I expected the worst, but she did beautifully and stayed in the ring.  It was very hot and she did well in the heat as well, but I would not want to do that all the time with her, Bull Terriers don't do well in the heat.  I had a hard time functioning in the heat by late Sunday and by the last run I almost scratched, I just didn't have enough energy to run, but went out and did it anyways.  I also worry about footing when slippery, my last dog "Lefty" ended up with a toe fracture just getting out of the car to head for the ring after it had rained heavily several years ago.

I love being inside on turf, matting or dirt, but not just any surface.  The surface has to be of good quality, I don't want my dogs injured in any way.  I want both the dogs and myself to be comfortable for the trial experience, that way I can focus on what I need to be doing instead of how hot or wet it is.  My dog deserves/needs my entire attention span, so the better the conditions are the better focused I am.  Another big decision maker for me is outdoors fenced our unfenced.  If the ring is unfenced and is close to a major roadway, I don't enter, it's not worth the risk since I cannot call my dog when her back is turned to me.

I too run in several venues and carefully pick which trials to attend so money is another factor for me.  I work 70 hrs a week and need to ask for weekends off to play agility.  When I do, I want to make sure I'm having fun, not worrying all weekend long about footing, weather, heat, etc.  I guess what is comes down to is doing what is best for your team, both you and your dog.

Savannah and Ray-Ray
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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast now indoors/outdoors
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2012, 10:26:07 AM »
I think some people are also missing the point that we can't all afford to pay the fees to hold trials at the indoor facilities.  It costs us about $1200/day just to rent the soccer facility.  It costs us another $1200+ to give out vouchers to workers, $400 to $1200 (yes $1200) for one judges airfare, $1/run to the judge $1/run to NADAC (and those fees are CHEAP!), ? for insurance,? for storage of equipment, ? hospitality.  If you don't get more than 400 runs per day you are in the hole.  Last year when we moved one of our trials indoors we probably only got an additional 150 runs for the weekend.  That did not make up for the difference in the cost of the facility.

Gina Pizzo

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Re: Concern for NADAC agility in the Northeast now indoors/outdoors
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2012, 03:09:24 PM »
I think some people are also missing the point that we can't all afford to pay the fees to hold trials at the indoor facilities.  It costs us about $1200/day just to rent the soccer facility.  It costs us another $1200+ to give out vouchers to workers, $400 to $1200 (yes $1200) for one judges airfare, $1/run to the judge $1/run to NADAC (and those fees are CHEAP!), ? for insurance,? for storage of equipment, ? hospitality.  If you don't get more than 400 runs per day you are in the hole.  Last year when we moved one of our trials indoors we probably only got an additional 150 runs for the weekend.  That did not make up for the difference in the cost of the facility.

Gina Pizzo

Good points.  I know that we are seeing a HUGE increase in the number of VT runs that clubs are putting together.  One club had almost 300 runs over two days with 65 qualifiers.  So exhibitors paid $5 a run for an NQ and $10 for a qualifying run.  No judging fees, recording fees or trial fees.  If someone had a great yard with a full set of equipment, then people could get more opportunities to compete in NADAC without the massive expense of a full trial.