Benching – Setting Up and Tearing Down Your Show
by Mrs. A. M. Dickie
Mrs. Dickie is a former editor of the CFA yearbook, as well as a well-know breeder and exhibitor of Persians, under her Ednar cattery name.
The 1959 Yearbook carried a most instructive article by Mrs. Walker K. Johnston and Mrs. Joan Van Zele, “So You Want to Put on a Show”. Because I seem to get more from an outline I rearranged and added to this article for my own use and then, in 1960, when editor, printed it for the use of those whose minds worked like mine, under the title of “A Check List for Your Show”.
In the following article I will attempt to cover the selection of a hall, benching and general layout for a show and give some ideas for setting up and tearing down the show with the least confusion and furor.
The selection of a hall is of utmost importance. The availability of motels or hotels, restaurants and parking facilities is important but, no matter how fine these are they cannot make up for cramped quarters in the show room.
You will, of course, know approximately the number of cats to be entered in your show. Before signing any contract for a hall procure from the management (or prepare yourself) a scale drawing of the hall. I’ve worked with a plan 1/16th of an inch to a foot; I’ve also drawn my own plans on squared paper using 1/4 inch to a foot and measuring the hall with a yardstick! Be sure that all windows, doorways that must be kept clear and such items as fire extinguishers are marked on your plan.
Now you are ready to plan your showroom layout. If the hall is a long rectangle you may prefer to put your show rings at opposite ends of the hall – single shows, one on each end, double shows, two. If your hall is more nearly square you may choose to put our rings along one side wall.
The space for your rings should be figured first. If your judging cages have doors front and back you will need to set them out at least three feet from the wall. From the front of the cage to the judge’s table should be about five feet. Your judging ring then will be eight feet deep plus the width of the table upon which your cages set and the judge’s table. My experience is that most tables are 30 inches wide giving thirteen feet for the depth of your ring. The usual judging cage is two feet square and eleven will take care of all but the largest classes. Allow at least twenty-four feet of table for your eleven cages. Each ring then is twenty-four feet, plus a small amount for divider and necessary official traffic at each end, by thirteen feet.
Working on the principle that there is one exhibitor for each two cats entered and that only one quarter of them will be watching the judging at one ring at one time, the number of seats for exhibitors can be estimated. The number of spectators paying admission will vary in each part of the country and can only be estimated roughly, however it is my experience that most spectators will tarry only briefly at the judging areas, they are more interested in the cats. Each row of chairs will take three feet and fourteen or fifteen chairs can be put in each row before ach judging ring. Five or six rows should be ample unless you expect a huge gate. You can now figure the number of chairs that you will need for your spectator areas. Don’t forget to allow one per exhibitor to be used at the cages.
You will need space to exhibit your trophies. The amount will vary according to the number you offer. They can be placed between rings, on the ends of the rings or on low stands in front of the rings.
You must also provide space for your stewards. They should have chairs and a table large enough for sprays, towels, sponges, etc.
With the judging area blocked out you are now ready to figure your benching. First check your fire regulations. The manager of the hall under consideration should be able to tell you the minimum width of aisle, aisles to be left open for exits, etc. Six feet is the minimum aisle that can be used with comfort. A ten foot aisle can accommodate a very large crowd and still allow the exhibitor to move freely. In a show with four thousand spectators, ten foot aisles were ample save for the afternoon peak hours.
The normal rental or hall table is 30 inches wide and from four to ten feet long. A long row is unwieldy and I prefer a cross aisle at least every forty feet. A single forty foot row will take twelve 36 inch cages with ease. Always remember, no matter what size your cage, you must allow at least 2 inches per cage for variation of cage size. Many a beautiful plan has had to be reworked at the last minute because a given number of cages took more room than planned. A rough benching plan for your hall should be worked out now to be sure that you can bench the number of entries you hope to receive.
All this may seem like a lot of work but it pays off. An empty hall looks huge and even the measurements can be misleading. Better to find out at the start the limitations of a hall than to beg, borrow and scrounge for room after you’ve paid your deposit.
Perhaps this would be the place to consider the number of entries you wish to accept. It has always been my feeling that a judge should not be asked to handle more than 125 cats a day. This is especially true of specialty judges with several sets of finals. With 300 entries you will find that there will be from 25 to 50 absentees. This makes a comfortable show which, if started approximately on time, will be over at a reasonable hour.
… To be continued in the next issue …