Thursday, February 3, 2011
Field Trial Hall of Fame ceremonies set for February 12 in Grand Junction
Little did anyone realize in February 1991, that the small structure being dedicated as a museum for bird dogs in Grand Junction, Tennessee, would grow and prosper to such an extent that it is today a spacious, modern facility, and a destination for sporting dog fans from across the continent.
Today the National Bird Dog Museum has grown to 25,000 square feet of exhibit space and with its fourth planned expansion will soon grow to over 30,000 square feet.
This all spun out of the century-old legacy of the National Field Trial Championship for pointers and setters run at nearby Ames Plantation.
What began as a tiny “museum room” in Wilson Dunn’s store attracted a growing patronage among town guests and visiting field trialers. Several stalwarts in the bird dog world decided, “We ought to build a museum!”
By the late 1980s, several interested parties had pooled their efforts, formed a non-profit corporation to raise funds, and begun construction planning. On Feb. 16, 1991, their efforts came to fruition with the dedication of the first building; it was called the National Bird Dog Museum.
Upon observation of this success by fans of sporting dog breeds outside of the pointing dog world, there was a sudden surge of interest for including retrievers, spaniels, and many other breeds in the new dog museum. It was not long before the American Brittany, retrievers, and English springer spaniels were included.
A second building, the Field Trial Hall of Fame, was added in 1994. A full library and auditorium were added with the construction of the adjoining Wildlife Heritage Center in 1996. Retriever fans constructed a new wing in 2004. Along with this growth came interest and involvement of other breeds, including the German shorthaired pointer, the red setter, the Vizsla and many more. In a tour of the entire facility today, one will find nearly 40 different breeds of sporting dogs featured throughout.
To better showcase all these dog breeds and their various histories, a new 5,000 square feet building is in planning.
In addition to learning about the legacy of sporting dogs, the visitor may view many mounted examples of North American game birds, waterfowl, and mammals. The William F. Brown Library is a good place to learn about the history or training of dogs, or perhaps watch a DVD related to some aspect.
With all this success to highlight, the umbrella organization, the Bird Dog Foundation, will be featuring special activities at the museum during February. A Powerpoint slide show, covering images of the past 20 years, will run continuously during the gala weekend of February 12 and 13. Decorative dog art, sponsored by local businesses and stylized by local artists, will be featured on the grounds. A commemorative booklet covering the 20-year history is also being prepared.
The Field Trial Hall of Fame Inductions 2011
Among the venues at the museum is the Field Trial Hall of Fame, where the greatest of the greats are enshrined – both people and dogs, who, over the decades, have made their marks in the field trial sport. The hall is considered hallowed ground among competitive field trialers and fans. It is an annual highlight of the competitive sporting dog world when the induction ceremonies convene.
This year, ceremonies will be hosted at the Bird Dog Foundation in Grand Junction on Saturday, February 12. Ten deserving dogs and nine distinguished people will be inducted. Honorees have been selected from the Brittany, pointer/setter, retriever, spaniel, German shorthair, and for the first time, red setter, arenas.
Festivities begin at 9 a.m. and will last the entire day. Sponsors are Purina and The American Field magazine. Dale Bush of College Station, Texas, president of the Bird Dog Foundation, is scheduled to preside. Related activities at the Bird Dog Foundation continue over the weekend and into the following week.
Running of the National Field Trial for Pointing Bird Dogs
Again this year, all the many gala events at the Bird Dog Foundation will precede or coincide with the starting week of the pointing dog National Field Trial Championship at the nearby Ames Plantation. This year marks the 112th running of the “Super Bowl of Bird Dogs.”
The historic grounds at Ames have seen many greats venture forth over the past century. Last year, 38 pointers and three setters qualified for the prestigious competition. A similar number are expected this year, including “In the Shadow” the 2010 winner. The fleet running dogs will seek the elusive bobwhite quail in its winter coveys on the Ames courses.
Barring bad weather, the horse-back trial, run over two three-hour courses, will take about two weeks to complete. Eukanuba will sponsor a kick-off event to be held at the Bird Dog Foundation, Sunday evening, Feb. 13.
Sixth Annual Springer Spaniel Field Trial Planned
For the past five years, English springer spaniel enthusiasts have hosted such a successful field trial near LaGrange, Tenn., that the event seems to grow each year. The event has been dubbed the Hall of Fame Classic. Last year’s spaniel trial drew nearly 200 dogs and their owners from many U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. Grounds south of LaGrange will be active when trials commence on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
The trials are open to dog lovers and can be followed on foot. For safety and fairness to competitors, strict ground rules must be adhered to by the visiting public. Signs will direct south from Highway #57. Alex Kerr of Mason, Tenn., is in charge of local planning for the trial. Admission is free and the public is invited to follow this unique event showcasing top dogs in pursuit of liberated pheasants.
The Bird Dog Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit charity dedicated to preserving the past and protecting the future for over 40 breeds collectively referred to as bird dogs. Its museum is open six days per week. To learn more about its history and mission, visit www.birddogfoundation.com or call 731-764-2058.
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