As judging progresses through the day, often birds awarded sweepstake prizes will be placed at the front of the hall onto champion row. These are usually class winners and reserve winners. People may tend to gather here to observe the champions as they are selected, and it is a great place to observe the top entries of the show. Shows may not immediately announce overall champions, they may do this at a banquet or later the following day. If you don’t get a chance to see the winners during your visit, they will usually always be posted online somewhere shortly after the show.
Some shows may publish pictures or biographies on their judges. Reviewing this ahead of time will help you to recognize them in the show hall and also may help you to connect with them if you have questions. Remember, judges are working professionals and need to focus on getting their job done. If a judge is having lunch or coffee or sitting somewhere on their own, it is okay to approach them and ask them if they would be comfortable or have time to chat with you, or setup a time to connect that works for them afterwards, although this may be by phone or e-mail on another day.
Often, people are looking for more than simply experiencing the show as an observer. If this resonates with you, consider returning to the administration area and connecting with the show management. When you are there, offer your help to them. Most shows will gladly accept volunteer help and will have various tasks that they will be thankful for help with! One of the best experiences at a show is sweeping the floor. While this may feel like a menial task, you will almost always be thanked for your services, and sweeping the floor in and around where your particular breed of interest is might open the door for you to engage in conversation with the exhibitors or judges as they are there too! It also lets you observe the nuances of the breed, and their preparation. A lot can be gleaned by simply observing other exhibitors as they prepare their birds and work with them in the cages.
Poultry shows are one of the best ways to learn about the many, diverse breeds of domestic birds we keep. Rarely do we get an opportunity to observe so many birds all in one place, but the show hall affords us this chance, and everyone has an equal opportunity to attend, engage and participate. If you make the effort to learn about and attend one of these events, grab a broom and get involved, it is an opportunity you most certainly won’t regret!