By Kevin Murphy
(Reuters) – A dog show that draws about 2,000 purebred dogs and 25,000 spectators each year to Detroit has been canceled after 98 years due to a lack of sponsorship, officials said Thursday.
The Detroit Kennel Club’s March show was one of only five large shows nationally where dogs were shown in competition and then lingered on the sidelines for public viewing and demonstrations, show chairman Richard Ford said.
Ford said the show attracted up to 40,000 spectators to a downtown Detroit convention center about a decade ago, but attendance has been in a gradual decline.
The cancellation was another blow for the city of Detroit, which filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history in July.
“Our shows have always been sort of to educate the public about purebred dogs,” Ford said. “We had sheep-herding demonstrations, police dogs, hunting dogs. People always enjoy it.”
Club spokeswoman Kirsten Borgstrom said dog food maker Purina ended a sponsorship three years ago. The club turned to professional fundraisers, but fell short of its needs, she said.
“We’ve vowed to take the next year to regroup and try to find additional sponsors to do another show,” Borgstrom said.
Lisa Peterson, spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, said the show’s cancellation does not reflect a national pattern. Only the largest of shows rely on sponsors, with most depending on attendee revenue, she said.