Since 1951, the Marion Ohio Kennel Club (MOKC) has been protecting and promoting the interests of canine breeders, owners, and dog fanciers in the Marion area – and putting on a lot of dog shows. On July 28, club members will celebrate the 119th Harding Classic Dog Show at Marion’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Marion’s nationally known and respected annual dog show features purebred dog conformation and obedience judging and attracts competitors and visitors from across the United States and Canada. While the show may be local, the hosts, handlers, and dogs are the very same ones seen on nationally televised dog shows; what’s unique is the opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal to the dogs and show rings.
When the first Harding Classic was held, the American Kennel Club (AKC), to which the Marion Ohio Kennel Club belongs, allowed one show per member club annually. When that guideline changed to two shows per year, the Marion club held events in both January and July. Eventually, both shows were moved to July – back-to-back – to avoid inclement winter weather. Both shows are All Breeds dog shows open to all American breeds enrolled in the AKC Canine Partners Program. The shows feature obedience trials on Sunday and finish with a Best of Show championship dog.
“Our club is diverse in its membership, which keeps the Club going,” said MOKC member Miriam Whisler. “Some members breed and show dogs, one member does Free Style with their dog, other members train dogs in obedience. Some members are active judges in the fancy and other members just have an enthusiasm for dogs. We all work to make Marion Ohio Kennel Club an active group.”
The Club has positively impacted the Marion community. Whisler estimates that the Harding Classic Show weekend generates $750,000 for Marion in hotel, restaurant, and similar purchases. Additionally, the Kennel Club, which has always utilized the Coliseum for their event, financially supported the construction of the Coliseum Annex and other fairground improvements. The Club also offers obedience training and Canine Good Citizenship evaluations locally. MOKC donates trophies for the Marion County Fair’s 4-H dog projects and supports the Marion County Sheriff Department’s K-9 deputies.
Outside of the Marion community, the local Club is a Wall of Fame donor to the recently relocated AKC Museum of the Dog in New York City and generously donated to the AKC RE-Unite Disaster Relief Trailer based in Delaware, Ohio. The trailer assists Emergency Management responders in helping people and their pets when disaster strikes.
“The MOKC is proud to be MarionMade!,” said Whisler. “A quote by John Grogan–author of the bestselling book Marley and Me–embraces our club’s purpose in Marion, ‘It is amazing how much love and laughter dogs bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.’”
The 2019 Harding Classic Dog Show begins at 8 a.m. on July 28 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free and parking is $5; only registered show dogs are permitted on the grounds. In addition to the competition, vendors selling canine retail products, from bumper stickers and leashes to jewelry fashioned to show off favorite breeds, will be on hand. Featured events on Sunday include Coursing Ability at the Huber Entrance on the track, obedience events, and a Pee Wee Class for handlers 5-9 years old. Additional information is available on the Marion Ohio Kennel Club’s Facebook page.