DETROIT — The Detroit Kennel Club has cancelled its annual dog show for 2014 after nearly a century because there isn’t enough sponsorship to support the Motor City tradition.
The March event at downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center typically draws 2,000-3,000 dogs and 25,000 spectators, but the club has struggled to find new sponsors since pet food maker Purina withdrew three years ago, The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press reported.
“We did everything humanly possible to come up with sponsorships,” said Detroit Kennel Club spokeswoman Kirsten Borgstrom. “People are upset. We’ve had generations of families who have shown their dogs — grandparents, parents and now the kids.”
The dog show has been held since 1916. Officials say the event cost more than $100,000 annually, with the main sponsor covering most of that. In addition to popular dog competitions, the show featured herding and police dog demonstrations.
The event also had declining attendance and the loss of popular events such as the agility competition, where dogs raced through an obstacle course. The club plans to continue to keep raising money and hopes to later revive the show, possibly at a different venue.
“As of now, if we would go at it alone, we would have tapped ourselves out completely,” said Richard Ford, the chairman of the dog show. “The last couple of years we tried to talk to other sponsors. We’re going to still pursue sponsors for 2015.”
Kate Lochner, owner of Invisible Fence Brand of Shelby Township, said she was saddened by the decision. Lochner said she and her husband attended the Detroit show each year since moving to Michigan five years ago, and that it helped them meet potential customers.
“You have a ton of different dogs,” she said. “It brought people into the city. From a business standpoint, we met so many people.”