The Kennel Club of Philadelphia's National Dog Show, homeless just a few years ago, has emerged as a family entertainment juggernaut in southeastern Pennsylvania.
The rich history of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia (KCP) dates back to 1879, and the annual Kennel Club event began in 1933. The current home of what has become the most prominent event of its kind in America is Montgomery County. Located just northwest of Philadelphia, it is where some 15,000 people converge for two days of canine competition and exposition to the delight of dog lovers throughout the region, and TV viewers across the United States.
Long a Center City Philadelphia staple, the show moved to Fort Washington in the early 2000s but found itself without a suitable and affordable venue when the Expo Center was sold off to real estate developers in 2005. The nonprofit KCP then went to Harrisburg, Reading and back to Center City during a three-year span, losing its continuity in the Philly market amidst growing competition for the entertainment dollar. With the 2009 opening of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, the tradition-rich event has the wind in its sails once again as the centerpiece of a series of charity fundraising and familyfriendly activities dubbed National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia.
National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia consists of five events: National Dog Show Charity Walk, National Dog Show Press Preview, “The Perfect Dog” theatrical production, National Dog Show Gala and, of course, the main event: National Dog Show, set this year for Saturday and Sunday Nov. 18-19.
On Thanksgiving Day, NBC brings the “National Dog Show Presented by Purina” to millions of Americans. NBC Philadelphia will air the two-hour special in Delaware County.
National Dog Show Charity Walk
Starting off the National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia is the fourth annual National Dog Show Charity Walk taking place this year on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Wilson Farm Park in Wayne. Since the inaugural walk, the KCP has raised over $10,000 for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, New Leash on Life USA, PACT for Animals, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Morris Animal Refuge, Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue and Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation (PVF). The walk will be hosted by the 95.7 BEN FM Morning Show Team of Matt Cord and Kristen Herrmann. Herrmann and Cord will promote the charity walk on-air along with Kristen’s pit bull Gloria, a frequent presence in the BEN FM studio on weekday mornings.
The walk is a fun event for families featuring a 1-mile trip around the park, plus a host of other attractions. Last year, the walk was led by young gymnasts from the GymOlympic Sports Academy in Exton, who started off the procession by walking on their hands with dogs leashed to their ankles, generating multiple newspaper articles and TV segments. Wagsworth Manor Pet Resort of Malvern showcased a therapy dog demonstration and the Philadelphia office of the Transportation Security Administration showed the hundreds of attendees their highly skilled drug and explosives detection canines. Games and prizes included a top dog trick contests as well as costume and beauty competitions. A similar program is set for this year. The master of ceremonies for the walk is David Frei, expert analyst for the National Dog Show Presented by Purina.
“The Perfect Dog”
Theatrical Production This year, the production moves to the oldest community theater on the Main Line. Footlighters Theater in Berwyn was founded in 1929 and remains a theater arts treasure for the western suburbs and beyond. “The Perfect Dog” is a children’s musical, adapted from John O’Hurley’s book, “The Perfect Dog.” It will warm the audience’s hearts as Sam, a 12-year-old perfectionist, searches for a flawless dog to enter in the town’s dog contest. Unable to find a canine that measures up, Sam must resort to training the family dog, Max, who is less than eager to obey commands. In the end, Sam and Max learn that there is no such thing as being perfect, but there is such a thing as being perfect for each other. The play will run for its third straight year with a show the night of Friday, Nov. 10, a matinee and evening show on Saturday, Nov. 11, and a special performance on Thursday, Nov. 16.
National Dog Show Gala
The annual National Dog Show Gala is now in its fifth year of launching the big dog show weekend. This social gathering offers an evening of music and entertainment while raising money for PRMH, PAWS, and the Pennsylvania Veterinary Foundation. 95.7 BEN FM is the primary sponsor of the event, which includes a red carpet and cocktail reception followed by a sit-down dinner, awards and more on Nov. 17. O’Hurley, Frei and NBC Sports personality Mary Carillo will be on hand for the gala along with regional celebrities and on-air talent from NBC 10.
2017 National Dog Show
The National Dog Show is the climax of the National Dog Show Month in Philadelphia at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. As one of only three “benched” shows left in the country (Westminster in New York City and San Francisco are the others), dogs will be on display for the audience the entire day. Attendees can meet over 180 different breeds up close while watching the breed, group and Best in Show Judging, as well as demonstration events from some of the most talented and athletic dogs in the world, including the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team.
“The National Dog Show Presented by Purina” TV Special
The two-hour show, hosted by John O’Hurley and David Frei, annually draws a total audience of over 20 million total viewers. The show, now in its 16th year, is perfectly positioned after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and before football takes over the day so that families can celebrate the wonderfulness of the dogs in our lives. Mary Carillo, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are also a part of the broadcast team and America’s great purebred canines are the stars of the show. Last year, the show earned a Nielsen rating of 5.9, its highest in history