Gerardmer, Vosges (France)
A Vintage Year
by Jilly Bennett
Yes, it was a ‘vintage’ year! After twenty years of Euro-OES-Shows we’ve all become connoisseurs of
what a good Euro-OES-show should be and France pulled out all the stops to make it a truly excellent one. We all know the Euro-OES-Show
is far more than just a dog show. It’s a long weekend of spending time with friends, of great ambiance, the exchange of views, the
camaraderie of people brought together from all over the world, by simply one thing - our love of the Old English Sheepdog. As the years
have gone by, it’s become the highlight of the dog calendar for many of us and so we take a few days either side and make it a holiday
The setting for this year’s Euro-OES-Show in northeastern France, in the department of the Vosges was just stunning. The pretty town of
Gerardmer is set on the shores of a beautiful lake surrounded by forests. Rain had been forecast but arrival day on the Friday was in
glorious sunshine. We were spread out along the lake in various hotels and all seemed to be run by really friendly owners. The ideal
situation for the Euro-OES-Show, of course, is for us all to be in one large hotel – after all, then we can meet up for drinks, sit and
chat, that what it’s all about but it isn’t always possible and whilst we were spread out, we weren’t far apart and I believe it worked
Friday saw the golf tournament held at the Golf des Images d’Epinal, which was won by Ray Owen. Well done, Ray! During the afternoon,
we all went along to the Congress Centre, a large and beautifully laid out hall by the side of the lake, to register and to collect our
‘welcome bags,’ which included a really nice and useful apron – good for grooming or cooking – take your choice. Isabelle (what a ball
of energy she is and a lady who never stopped smiling) and all the committee of the French club worked incredibly hard, there was a
fabulous atmosphere and the team spirit amongst them was superb. Well done to everyone on great organisation and for the welcome given
to us all.
On the Friday night, we were free to eat where we wanted and it was fun to walk about the town and choose a restaurant. As we walked
back to our hotels, we’d see friends eating at another restaurant, stop; say hello and on to the next.
I was lucky enough to have a meal that evening with Germana, last year’s organiser of the show in Italy and her friend Romeo, along with my buddy from Spain, Richard
Baker. We met a friendly group who’d come all the way from Canada for the weekend.
Next day saw the seminar and this year’s subject was ‘The Responsibility of the Breed Judge.’ This was held in a large room, alongside
the hall where the show would be held the next day. It was conducted in three languages – French, German and English. Unfortunately,
due to an oversight, it hadn’t been translated into English but Joachim Pilz and Barbara Müller did a sterling job in translating as
they went along. I found the subject very interesting but felt the momentum was lost as we sat and listened to a language other than
our own. Obviously this is a delicate subject – should seminars be conducted in one language only? – English being the most commonly
spoken language amongst us all. It’s easy for me to say - I'm English. Certainly the Dutch, the Scandinavians, many Germans, the Czech
– and more – put us to shame in their command of the English language but many of the French don’t speak English. It’s something to
think about for the future perhaps. Either the seminar is conducted in the language of the host country, with printouts in other
languages - or it’s always conducted in English with a print out in the language of the host country only. Do you have a view on this?
There was no sightseeing tour this year. We were free to explore the lake and town or go further afield if we wanted and there was much
to see and enjoy in this beautiful region of France. I was invited, along with Ray and Angie Owen and Richard, to the house Carmen Bulo,
from Spain, had rented – we drove up and up and up, way into the hills above the lake where Carmen, Ineke and Xavi served a wonderful
lunch, much of which had been made by Carmen’s Mama. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to taste food prepared by Mama Bulo in Barcelona,
you’ll know how well we ate that lunchtime!
That evening, we had the first of two official dinners at Le Lido at the far end of the lake. Lisa Thielfoldt Nielsen from Denmark
(what ever would we do without Lisa?) organised a boat to take us from one end of the lake to the other. That was the best fun and such
a beautiful trip. The food was just super, a typical Vosgiennes meal, and the cabaret of local dancers were excellent. Great energy and
enthusiasm. It worked so well because they danced for us, then we had some food, and then it started again, breaking up the evening very
nicely and keeping us all on our toes. These were a totally superb group. We loved them!
Show day saw the biggest entry ever for the Euro-OES-Show. The main judge was Christina Bailey, who judged the Euro-OES-Show in Spain
three years ago. Normally it is the Crufts judge of the following year who judges the Euro-OES-show, but next year’s Crufts judge
stepped down from the Euro-OES-Show and so the rules state that it will therefore be the judge of LKA the previous year – i.e.
Christina. Christina was reluctant to do the show, having judged it so recently (she was concerned this would affect the entry for the
Euro-OES-Show) but with the biggest entry ever, spread over the main classes and those of her co-judge, Ann Titheridge, she needn’t
I really liked the way Christina placed her dogs as she went along. It can be tough on exhibitors as you perhaps get moved down and
down but it makes for accuracy and ease in judging when you have an enormous class.
There were visitors from all over the world and winners from all over the world too. A very nice Canadian breeder called Barbara
Marchand (Rollingview) won the jackpot when four Juniors she’d bred, all from the same litter, won or were placed in their classes.
The sire was Ch. Aryakas Cosmo Junior, who won BOB at Crufts this year and R-BIS at the Euro-OES-show last year.
When it came to the massive Champion Dog class, there was much applause and many tears when Xavi Pons and Ineke Uit Beijerse, won the class
and later, BIS with Ch. Whispering in the Wild of Krismaca, bred by Carmen Bulo. Many of us know that Ineke has been battling breast
cancer (and winning) following a serious operation and yet, along with Carmen, she’d worked tirelessly in keeping her dog in tiptop
condition and it showed. A well deserved win.
Reserve Best in Show went to Claudia Schibler's Argovian Emotional Affair from the Champion class. Many congratulations. The Open bitch
class was won by Ch. Griland Beauty Bear from Russia, who had also taken the Bitch Bitch award at Crufts this year. That evening much
celebrating went on at the Russian table! It’s so good to see the Euro-OES-Show fulfilling those early dreams – exhibitors and visitors
from ALL over the world.
And so to the Gala Evening. We had very little time to prepare and it was amazing to see the ladies, all dolled up and looking beautiful
after what seemed like 20 minutes in the bathroom! Okay, so the men looked pretty smart too!
I was sitting with the Spanish crowd and with Ray and Angie Owen from the UK, and Germana and Romeo (now there’s a name for a man!)
from Italy. It was so good to share and celebrate the success of Ineke, Xavi and Carmen.
The food was marvellous, as was the ambiance. The cabaret started the moment we arrived with a magician going from table to table.
He later presented his full show of magic tricks, which was quite extraordinary. I gave up looking when he started pulling nails from
As usual, Eef Ter Mors, took the microphone and the stage, along with the other three members of our esteemed Euro-OES-Show committee,
Joachim Pilz, Barbara Mueller and Claude Ritter. Imagine my surprise when Eef started talking about me! I only realised this when he
spoke about a ‘child of the sixties.’ (By way of explanation, whenever Eef and I meet he starts laughing! I always ask why and he
always tells me I remind him of the sixties. And then I laugh too because it’s true!) Goodness, what a compliment I was paid that
night when I was honoured with the third silver pin to be awarded for services to the Euro-OES-Show. It was a total surprise and thank
you so much to the committee for this great honour. It felt like the Oscar night in the world of the Old English Sheepdog!
See you all in Spain!
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