Get Ready for the 64th Annual Autumn Oaks
Aug. 31 - Sept. 3
August 28, 2023
It's that time of year again. It's the time of year where old friends get reacquainted and new ones are made. The time of year where we get ready for the event where history is made. Coonhound enthusiasts young and old alike, get ready to join us in Richmond, Indiana on Labor Day weekend for the 64th annual Autumn Oaks!
Autumn Oaks has been a Labor Day weekend tradition dating back to its founding as the Autumn Oak Worlds Championship in 1960, and it remains so over six decades later. The name and location have changed, and very little else. Over the years, the Oaks have traveled across Indiana, with stops in Greencastle, Jasper, Logansport, and now Richmond, and has also been around the country with at least one year in Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio, but Indiana just feels like home for this event, and it's where it's stayed for the last thirty-plus years. With thousands of people and hundreds of top hounds set to descend on the Wayne County Fairgrounds, in Richmond, Indiana, let's take a look at what you can expect at this year's event.
Tuesday, August 29
For those arriving early enough in the week, the Autumn Oaks Slam Series is back again, with warm-up hunts Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, August 29-31. With a 50 percent payout from entry fees, and a $500 purse awarded each night from Slam sponsor Yoder Nylon, a hunter can make back their Autumn Oaks entry fee and some of their travel expenses in short order. Not only that, but the overall Slam winner across the three nights will take home an additional $500 from Yoder. Not a bad way to kick things off!
Wednesday & Thursday, August 30 & 31
On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, confirmations and walk-up entries are open for the entire weekends run of bench shows, for those interested in putting their UKC-registered coonhound up against some of the best bench show coonhounds in the country. Walk-up show entries are $30 per show. Thursday will feature a Coonhound Conformation Specialty Show, following the UKC All-Breed Sports Conformation rulebook, with dogs judged on the ground and no benches in the ring. The Friday and Saturday shows are traditional Coonhound bench shows with the UKC Coonhound rulebook in effect.
Thursday & Friday, August 31 & September 1
On Thursday night following the Conformation show, we kick off the 2023 National Dual Championship competition, with the Nite Hunt portion. The National Dual Championship was established in 2018 to celebrate dogs who can get it done in the woods, in addition to standing as strong representatives of their breed on the bench. Dogs who enter must have achieved a minimum of a Conformation Champion title and a Nite Hunt Champion title on their pedigree at time of entry. The event has showcased the diverse range of coonhounds, with the National Dual Championship honor going to a Plott, a Leopard Hound, a Black & Tan, and two Treeing Walkers in its first five years of existence. All plus-point cast winners from Thursday nights hunt will advance to the Friday afternoon bench show, where they will show against their own breed. Breed winners will then advance to determine the National Dual Champion. Perhaps a Bluetick, English, or Redbone will take the prize this year, but there's only one way to know for sure, and that's to be there yourself.
Friday, September 1
On Friday, September 1, things really get rolling, with the bench show for dogs in the Registered class, followed by the National Dual Championship bench show. Early Friday afternoon, the confirmation and walk-up entry window opens for that nights hunt as well, with an official cast call set for 4 p.m. Dogs with the GRNITECH (Grand Nite Champion) title must hunt Friday. The Top 16 high scoring plus-point cast winners from Friday nights hunt advance to Saturdays Grand 16, which consists of two rounds: the first round features four 4-dog casts, and the second round is the final cast, which will determine the National Grand Nite Champion.
Friday night also features an Autumn Oaks tradition--live music! Starting at 7:30 p.m. EST on Friday night, exhibitors are encouraged to head to the south end of the First Bank Richmond Expo Center for the yearly concert at Autumn Oaks. We've had a variety of performers through the years, but in 2023, we're welcoming back Timothy Paul, who will bring his soulful blend of country, southern rock, and classic rock to the stage!
Saturday, September 2
In addition to another hunt on Saturday, where hounds can still earn high scoring breed honors, among other prizes presented by the national breed associations, the Champion and Grand Champion classes will take to the ring in the Bench Show, where we will crown a National Grand Show Champion. The Bench Show has been a staple dating back to the first days of Autumn Oaks, and almost as long as UKC-licensed Bench Shows themselves, and were excited to add another name to that legacy.
Sunday, September 3
Sunday will wrap everything up with the presentation of prizes and awards before the UKC team packs up to head home and start thinking about next year. Registered class will award first through tenth place, our Nite Champion class will be awarded first through fifth, and the Grand Nite Champion class will award the National Grand Nite Champion title as well as the seven National Grand Nite Champions of Breed for the seven recognized UKC Coonhound breeds.
For over six decades at Autumn Oaks, we've crowned the best of the best as National Grand Nite Champions and National Grand Show Champions. Of course, Treeing Walkers have dominated the Nite Hunt, making up 32 of the 63 champions to date. A nine-year stretch from 1981 to 1990 represents the longest period without a Walker winning National Grand Nite Champion. Second best is the English hounds, with 13 wins overall. In fact, an English (NGRNCH GRCH GRNITECH PR Rocky Creek Shredderman) is the last English to win at Autumn Oaks, back in 2016. In the Bench Show, Walkers hold the overall lead with 23 champions in 63 years, but the Black and Tans are nipping at their heels with 18. Walkers have also only won three of the last 13 National Grand Show titles. In that time, every UKC-recognized coonhound breed has won at least once, save the American Leopard Hound. Join the crowd at this years Autumn Oaks and see who takes the win!
Autumn Oaks brings folks from far and wide to Richmond, where the event has stayed for more than three decades. In the process, it brings people together, whether old friends, new friends, or new friends that feel like old. Its where you'll see an older couple that has been coming to the event for decades enjoying an ice cream cone, then a group of kids on their bikes heading to a campsite to play. You'll see experienced dogs, young pups, and everything in between. You can get anything for your dog you can imagine from a laundry list of vendors, hit up a variety of food options, or even head home with a new pup yourself. And you can also see some of the very best UKC-registered coonhounds in North America.
All told, not a bad way to spend part of a holiday weekend in the Hoosier State.
Guided by the belief that dogs make a difference by being the best partner a human can have in the field, on the job, or in a competition event, UKC is a community for people and dogs to pursue excellence together. Founded in 1898, UKC has been dedicated to enhancing the lives of Dogs That Do More, and their owners, by providing essential resources to help owners and breeders make informed decisions. The dog-human bond is celebrated through family-friendly programs highlighting the instincts and heritage of purebred and mixed-breed dogs alike at over 18,000 licensed events annually.