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Historical Look at UKC Premier

From 1994 to Now

August 6, 2020


Premier has been the largest UKC All-Breed Sports event for more than 25 years.

The first UKC Premier, developed and planned by Connie Gerstner, Michelle O'Malley, and Vicki Rand, was held in Detroit, Michigan, on October 29 & 30, 1994. Exhibitors were offered two choices: Conformation and Obedience. The weekend was a resounding success, with over 1,200 entries.

The second annual Premier, now including Agility, was moved to UKCs hometown, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for July of 1995. Our archives reflect (and some of you undoubtedly remember) the record heat wave that weekend. Temps soared to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. By year three, a new weekend was used in an attempt to find temperate weather. This also required a change in venue for a scheduling conflict. And so, the third Premier, held Mothers Day weekend 1996, took place in Barrien Springs, Michigan (located about an hour Southwest of Kalamazoo). The weather pendulum swung a bit too far for those dates: that weekend was chilly and soggy.

For the UKC Centennial celebration year, 1997, Premier wasnt held in its usual fashion, but resumed in 1998 at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. Just 11 years later, in 2009, Total Dog Best In Show came to life for the first time won by UAGII UC UWPS UWPCHX GRCH Nirvana Chosen One Of Snobiz, a Samoyed female owned by Robin Clark of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Total Dog has been a core UKC belief for a century. It had always been a Premier highlight to offer Total Dog throughout the weekend. Incorporating a Total Dog Best In Show provided the recognition worthy of the designation, and it has only increased in popularity and prestige since then.

Premier stayed put in Kalamazoo for 12 more years until 2010 when it was temporarily relocated to Richmond, Indiana, the longtime home of UKC's Autumn Oaks coonhound event. (Another sweltering weekend!) The following year, Premier returned to Michigan soil, and we've kept the massive gathering comfortably nestled within the 120-acre sprawling site of the Kalamazoo County Fairground ever since.

Last summer, 2019, we saw the 26th Premier weekend come and go like so many others. Who could have guessed we'd be transitioning to a virtual event for 2020? If you've joined us on site before, you know there are a few ways to describe any Premier weekend: exciting, exhausting, unpredictable, magic. You haven't been to Premier if you havent weathered a storm, cursed the heat, been caught in the rain, or felt foolish for not packing more layers. Premier weekend requires you to expect the unexpected.

Each and every Premier is full of its own memories, milestones, and historic achievements. This year, our virtual event will be no different. The 2020 event was first postponed from June to August, and then officially canceled in July. In its place is the first ever UKC Virtual show called the Virtual Premier Total Dog Challenge. Entries are accepted through August 10th. The show takes place online on August 22nd.

In another 26 years, the details of this year's event changes and the surrounding reasons will be recorded like the weather: an archived fact we can all reminisce about. Together. "I remember Premier that year," you'll say. And you'll also remember the dog you had next to you when you when it all happened. And that will be the best memory of all.

Virtual Premier 2020

Though we're sad to not be seeing you here in Kalamazoo for Premier 2020, we look forward to hosting you online for the Virtual Premier Total Dog Challenge on August 22nd! Watch all Group competitions and see who wins Best In Show. During the show, an exciting Total Dog announcement will be made. Tune in to hear it first!

Review additional access details.

What other Premier memories do you have to share? Best weather? Worst weather? Biggest accomplishment? Most memorable "silly dog" moment in the ring? We want to hear it!

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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 15,000 licensed events annually.

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