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History of the Bryn Mawr Hound Show

This history is excerpted, edited, and updated from History of the Bryn Mawr Hound Show 1914-1989 by C. Barton Higham, published in honor of the show's seventy-fifth anniversary in 1989.

Origins

The Bryn Mawr Hound Show celebrated its centennial in 2014.  During its long history, it has offered the widest classification of all hounds: English, American, Cross Bred and Penn-Marydel Foxhounds, plus Beagles, Bassets, and, at various times, Harriers and Working Terriers.  It is also the oldest "complete" outdoor hound show in America.  The oldest from the standpoint of time was the National Hound Show, started by Messrs. Keyes, Perkins and Higginson in 1906.  However, showing was limited to Foxhounds, except in 1908 when members of the National Beagle Club showed some hounds.  That affair lasted only three years before it was moved from South Lincoln, Massachusetts to New York, where it was then adopted by the Westminster Kennel Club and held as a part of their annual show.

The Bryn Mawr Hound Show was started in September, 1914 by John Valentine, Plunket Stewart and J. Stanley Reeve. Local Masters of Hounds were contacted and, upon receiving approval and support, officers were elected and committees appointed. Apparently, the first show was a great success, as 21 of the foremost packs in America showed hounds.  Among the packs exhibiting were Myopia, Brandywine, Cheshire, Elkridge, Green Spring Valley, Harford County, Middlesex, Mr. McCom's Hounds, Meadow Brook, Piedmont, Pickering, Radnor, Rose Tree, Mr. Riddle's, White Marsh Valley, and Wheatley Beagles, Radnor Beagles, Mr. Justice's Beagles, Mr. Barnards' Beagles, Mr. Rieger's and Somerset Beagles.  The showing of hounds, as opposed to hunting them, was, as expected, a new experience for most masters, especially since those showing were mostly local packs. All were very enthusiastic and promised to return for the show the following year.  This, of course, ensured the success of the show for the future.

Place and Date

This first show, and subsequent shows through 1942, were held at the Bryn Mawr Polo Field, in connection with the Bryn Mawr Horse Show. There was a cancellation of the shows during the war years, 1917-1918 and 1943-1945, but  the Bryn Mawr Hound Show was the first to be revived after World War II.  Although the horse show was not renewed in 1946, the Hound Show continued at the polo field grounds until 1948, when it moved to the grounds of the Rose Tree Hunt Club in Media, Pennsylvania. The new location afforded more extensive grounds for the show rings and a much larger area for the pack classes, always a popular part of the show.

In 1956 the show location was moved from Rose Tree to the grounds of the Radnor Hunt Club near Malvern in Chester County.  Because the Rose Tree Hunt had moved to York County, Pennsylvania, their grounds at Media were no longer available. The Radnor Hunt location proved to be an excellent one. Very spacious grounds were located adjacent to the club house, which was most suitable for the various social affairs and meetings that occurred before, during and after the show. Permanent, outside kennels were constructed over the period of years following 1960, and many of the packs involved in showing assisted financially. In 1961 it was felt that the September show date interfered with readying hounds for hunting and, accordingly, the show date was changed from autumn to spring.  Through 1996, the show was held on a Friday, but due to travel requirements and the fact that much hunt staff is no longer comprised of professionals but volunteers with other commitments, the show was moved to a weekend day.  In 1997 and 1998 it was held on Sunday, but subsequent shows have met on the first Saturday following Memorial Day.  This seems to work well for exhibitors and show organizers alike.

Other Important Shows

During all these years that the Bryn Mawr Show had been progressing, other hound shows had also had their beginnings. Some did not last long, while others did well, and some are still going strong. We have already discussed one of these, The National Hound Show. One of the most popular and well supported was the Riding Club Hound Show, inaugurated in 1925, and held in the winter in New York City at the same time as the annual dinner of the Masters of Foxhounds Association. This show was so successful that it drew most of the hound entries away from the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The Riding Club Show continued until the Club was dissolved in 1937.

Another, and most important, hound show in the United States is the Virginia Hound Show. This show was started in 1934 by William duPont, Jr., who was then President of the American Foxhound Club. The Virginia show ran for eight years until closed down by the war. It was revived in 1955, and has continued at various locations until the present. When the Bryn Mawr Show changed their show date from autumn to spring, The Virginia Hound Show did the same. This show has always been important to the Bryn Mawr organization as the show dates of each are only a week or less apart, and exhibitors from other states and Canada sometimes go directly from one show to the other. Quite often, judges for both shows come from Great Britain and some judge at both shows.

There are several other shows of considerable importance. Among these are the Canadian Hound Show, the Carolinas Hound Show, and the Southern Hound Show.

Outside of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America and its subsidiary Hound Show and Performance Trial Committee, the hunting organizations of primary importance to the hound show are the National Beagle Club and Penn-Marydel Foxhounds, Inc.  The Bryn Mawr hound show is run under the auspices of these organizations.

People

Then as now, the show is run by volunteer committees, including an executive committee and one for each hound breed.  Up until the war years, the executive committee consisted of a chairman, treasurer, and secretary.  The post-war era brought larger and more formalized committees, as the scope of the show grew. 

Starting with the 1946 show, Walter M. Jeffords, Sr. became President.  Mr. Jeffords served in this capacity from 1946 to 1948 and as Honorary President from 1949 to 1955. On first assuming the Presidency, he appointed as Chief Steward John B. H. Carter, who held office until 1957.  Lawrence E. Jones, Master of Rose Tree,  succeeded Mr. Jeffords and managed Bryn Mawr with outstanding success for 10 years (1949-1959).  This was an important period of growth for the Show and Mr. Jones was personally responsible for much of the expense involved in installing the outside kennels used each year by the visiting packs.   Former Chief Steward Carter became President in 1959, serving until his death in 1971.  John H. Richards, Jr., ex-M.F.H., Rose Tree, became President in 1971. Under his expert management, the show prospered. His executive committee necessarily was composed of local masters and ex-masters of hounds as well as others actively involved in hunting.  Mr. Richards completed his tenure as President in 1983.  He was succeeded by Julian M. Marshall, who had served as Vice President and Chief Steward for a number of years and served as President through 1987.  In 1988, George S. Hundt, then M.F.H. of Radnor, became President for a seven year tenure.  He was replaced in 1996 by Frank H. Griffin, III, M.F.H. Radnor, who served in this capacity until his untimely death in 2008.  He was succeeded by Richard H. Thompson, ex-MB. Unfortunanely, Mr. Thompson passed away shortly following the 2012 show, and has been replaced by L. Stockton Illoway, jt-Master of the Ardrossan Beagles, as President of the Association

As the show has grown in size, so have the organizational requirements.  As a result, the position of Show Chairman, ably filled by Mr. Christian Hueber, II, MFH, was added in 2003.  Mr. Hueber's service resulted in the smooth operation and growth of participation in recent shows.  Sadly, Mr. Hueber succumbed to pancreatic cancer on October 28, 2005, at the age of 49.  As a result, George S. Hundt, Jr. became Show Chairman. As of 2015, Mr. Hundt has now being succeeded by Anson W. H. Taylor, III, as Show Chairman.

Algernon S. Craven, M.F.H., Radnor, was appointed as  Secretary by Mr. Jones in 1949. Mr. Craven served through 1958, and then became Chief Steward through 1978.  A. William Battin was assistant Secretary in 1952 and served as Secretary from 1958 until his death in 1968. "Bill" Battin served the Bryn Mawr Hound Shows for 16 years with great distinction. Much of the success of the Shows was the result of his attention to the infinite detail and organization that the hound show always required.  Anson W. H. Taylor, Jr. succeeded Mr. Battin as Secretary in 1968 and held that office for a number of years.  As the Bryn Mawr show was set up, Secretary was a most demanding position. This is because, in addition to attending to the general affairs of the show, the Secretary had to receive and collate the show entries which then must be arranged and printed in the catalogue. The time to do all this is limited, and the catalogue must be ready by show day or it would be nearly impossible to operate. Mr. Taylor performed his duties exceptionally well.  He was succeeded in 1981 by James F. Scharnberg, MBH.  Mr. Scharnberg is talented artistically and did a great deal to improve and make the show catalogue more attractive.  Walter M. Jeffords, III became Secretary in 1989 and served for two years, at which time the increasing workload demanded the position be split in two: a general position of Secretary to handle the administrative affairs of the show, and an Entry Secretary to handle the preparation of the prize list and show catalog.  Mr. Jeffords continued as Entry Secretary through 1997, with Frank H. Griffin, III assuming the position of Secretary in 1991.  Mr. Jeffords was succeeded as Entry Secretary by David W. Herr, who took the huge step forward of computerizing the preparation of the prize list and catalog and filing of the results.  In 2003,  Mr. Herr was succeeded by Kris Bartosiak, who held the position for 12 years and during that time also developed and maintained the show's website. Although she remains Webmaster, she has been succeeded in 2015 as Show Secretary by Nancy Bedwell Danks.

As with any show or sporting exhibition, a tremendous effort over a considerable period of time, and a strong two week final push is always required to culminate in a successful one-day show. The committee meets several times a year to discuss finances, appointment of judges, trophies and a myriad of other details. The final push involves cleaning and arranging things at the grounds, mowing and kennel repairs and setup of show rings.

As each show ends, there remains the task of removing and storing all of the equipment for the following year. This is another day's work usually completed on the day following the show. Covering and uncovering the open-air kennels is always a time-consuming chore and discussions are under way to provide permanent roofing for the kennels. It is expected that this job could be done over a considerable period, by installing one section at a time.

The Fire of 1983

The President in 1983 was Julian M. Marshall.  Mr. Marshall had been involved in hunting activities all of his life.  He was particularly well acquainted with the masters of many of the exhibiting packs which is of primary importance to any show of this type.  Unfortunately, it fell to Mr. Marshall to cope with the most severe problem ever faced by this organization, an event which had a serious impact on the organization and eventually changed, to some extent, its makeup and mode of operation. On February 10, 1983 the Radnor Hunt kennel building was totally destroyed by fire. This caused a considerable problem, not only for Radnor, but also for a number of organizations who stored their equipment on the second floor of the kennel. This was a total loss and there was no salvage. The Hound Show had literally thousands of dollars invested in portable show rings, wire, tables, chairs, umbrellas, and coverings used each year on the outside kennels. All of this had to be replaced, and in a very short period of three months, or there would be no show in 1983.

Up until this time, Bryn Mawr had operated on a loose budget arrangement, but was organized very informally. It had no members and, therefore, no income from dues. Its income came from entry fees for the show and financial support received each year from the American Foxhound Club and The Masters of Foxhounds Association.  Now, a considerable cash outlay was required to replace all of the equipment that had been acquired over many years.

It was decided to reorganize Bryn Mawr as a nonprofit association and to secure a regular annual membership as well as life members. This was done, and the response was most gratifying. A good return from both classes of membership was received. In addition, Mr. Harry I. Nicholas, Jr., then Vice President, was instrumental in contacting a great number of foxhound packs in various parts of the country. Some twenty packs sent checks to offset the expenditures for new equipment.

Although the reorganization did bring in considerable funds, it was only enough to purchase lumber, paint, wire and metal tables. This is where the strong support and dedication of the group showed up the best advantage. One supporter purchased plywood at a discount and, on at least two afternoons, a group of a dozen or more members and helpers cut out the standards that support the boards used in the rings. After these were rough cut, they still had to have the slots for the boards cut out with jigsaws. Accordingly, the standards were then taken to the homes of various people who finished the cutting and trimming.

While the above was going on, another group was putting the prime coat on the boards at still another location. As spring approached, more work went into the finish paint job and other details. In this way, sufficient material was processed to provide the usual number of rings for the June show. It is estimated that more than five thousand dollars may have been saved through the work and assistance provided by the many helpful supporters.

So, as a result of the efforts of Mr. Marshall's committee, including in many cases spouses, friends, and members of several local packs, the job was completed just in time for the 1983 show. With all new equipment and a great feeling of satisfaction for a job well done, the show came off as well or better than ever before.

Acknowledgments

The Bryn Mawr Hound Show Association is indebted to its committee members, past and present, for their tireless dedication to the sport and to the show.  Many are carrying on long family traditions, being second or third generation participants.  In addition to the committee members, who each have one or more specific duties involving preparation for, or action on the day of the show, there are also many other individuals who contribute time and effort and without whom the show could not happen. These are stewards, record keepers, coordinators, and people who set up, knock down, and store the equipment. Because of the dedication of all of these people, along with the support of the members, we are confident that the Association will be able to continue its long tradition of staging one of the premier hound shows in the country.