A friend sent me a link to this discussion because she knows I am one of the people helping to organize the Rodent Fests. There seems to be quite a bit of confusion, and I am hoping to clear it up.
Nothing is canceled.
I am not aware of any 'Fests being canceled, either.
The event was moved to June because the venue was booked some of the earlier weekends in the spring. And it has to fit in with the event chair's schedule (Lee). So this year we're going to go for June, and see if that works better for peoples' schedules. Some attendees come in from New England, the mid-west, down south, and even fly in from the west coast. It is a long trip, and we want to make it easy for people to take off work & attend.
I am concerned about the accusations there were "sick animals" inside the venue.
If the animals were indeed sick or infected, why didn't anyone bring this to the attention of myself, Lee, Bobbi, or anyone else handling health-check or event concerns? I will promise you that if you come to me personally, I will handle the matter with discretion & I will look into the concerns immediately. If you see an animal that's really is looking "sick" why didn't you tell someone?
Is it true some people bring animals with mites/lice to the event? Yes. And they try to bring them in, where we visually check EVERY cage of rodents at the door. Cages or an entire breeder's load of animals have been excluded from coming in. I personally will be the bad guy and kick out an entire car-load of animals, if I felt it was needed. I know I've made a few enemies when I had to tell a breeder their animals can't come in after they made the long trip. But it's for the good of the group as a whole.
How do you handle non-rodents?
If it's a crate with a cat in it that someone is picking up from a rescue, no that cage is not going to be opened. (or dogs, turtles, fish, etc)
How is disease control at events done?
Last show we kept those animals in a separate area outside of the building. Mites/lice are out there in the world -- from other breeders, from infected bedding, from wild mice, from who knows. One of the club's goals is education: teaching people how to control & treat for external parasites. The reality is that even a vet may not catch the s/s of every disease and parasite based on a fast visual check. Vets usually need to look at a sample under the microscope (skin scraping) to definitely say what parasite if any an animal has. I don't know of any club or event that does such a thing, nor can I imagine how such a thing would be possible. No matter who holds a show or where, I strongly recommend a post-event quarantine
. It's just a good practice.
Why aren't people allowed to sell in the parking lot, adjacent room, lobby, etc?
This circumvents health check & quarantine. It also makes it impossible to track, if there might be a sick animal(s) at an event. If you do not believer in a proper quarantine & to follow health check rules, you have every right to your opinion ... but this not the right club for you.
Are some people dissatisfied with RodentFest?
With any event, it's true you cannot please all the people all of the time. We've also had to regrettably ask several people NOT to come back. While there aren't many formal rules of the club, we do need a drama-free atmosphere where people feel safe bringing themselves, their family members, and their animals.
How was attendance?
Tables sold OUT long before the last one (RF Fall '10). I know some people were disappointed when they checked in a month or two before that event and could not rent a table. Pre-sales of tables for the next one (Spring '11) were being done at last event, and the last I heard from Lee who was handing table sales: I think she may already have all the tables rented. The truth be told, we need to go to a larger venue. Walk-through attendance was very good.
If I'm a vendor, what's the key for success?
The breeders/vendors who did best are those who set up on time (before the hall opens to the public), who let their followers know they'd be there, and who might have took pre-orders before the event. I know that those coming with nice looking cages (not too overcrowded, glass cleaned), do better. People who always have someone working their table do better than those who have nobody at the table half the day. If you do step away, have out flyers or business cards so visitors can find out more. Mark cages clearly "for sale" "not for sale" "hold" -- people don't like to spend time picking out a mouse just to locate the owner in the room & find out the mouse isn't for sale.
Do you do events with other clubs?
Absolutely! Each group has good things to offer. I know from my own experience in showing in every club I could find on the east coast, I learned so much. The bigger the event, the better. The only stipulation is that both groups need to sit down together and agree on scheduling, health check/ disease control, any show or venue rules, costs, etc. If there's going to be judging, we just need to talk about which Standards, so it can be advertised properly and qualified judges can be located.
Where does all the money go that you collect?
We do not charge a membership fee or an admission fee. Table rentals are collected and almost all of it is used to pay for the hall rental. Show fees go to pay for the many nice trophies the club orders. Anything that might be left over (which generally is under $50 or $100) is put towards the deposit of renting next year's venue. Lee does not pocket any of it as profit, nor do I. I've never been paid anything for helping to run an event, helping with judging, etc.
What kind of shows do you do?
The determining factor is interest in enough people to make a show worthwhile. What's the point in handing out ribbons if there are only 3 participants in a show? Interest in showing rats has been consistently strong, so we continue to invest in rat judge training & in having several rat judges there. Sometimes we'll do a fun rat or all-species show. Last 'Fest there was an agility maze set up. So, if you don't like that there aren't judged mouse shows at Rodent Fest, let's all get together and bring them back. But the club can't do it if there is not enough consistent interest in showing mice. Rat judging has been done using the RMFE Standards (with permission). RMFE standards are one of the only ones which are genetics-based. Enough of us are familiar with AFRMA and some of the British clubs' standards that it's not etched in stone we have to use RMFE standards for mice. It's a topic always open for discussion, and I hope we can continue to discuss it and build the mouse fancy in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.
Why isn't there a mouse show in my town?
Shows have been held in MD and PA so far. We have done research to hold one in NY, NJ, or VA. There are two big limiting factors: a pet-friendly indoor VENUE that allows mice without charging thousands of dollars. And a very RELIABLE VOLUNTEER who does the work of setting up the rental, local advertising, delegating set-up and tear-down, etc. If I had to guess how much time Lee Simms put into organizing the last Rodent Fest, I would guess 100s of hours: table rentals, resolving problems, advertising, finding enough people to help with clean up, etc. Once people find out how much of a responsibility it is to organize a mouse show, they may not want to do it. I personally organized the Fests when we did it in Maryland, and I can tell you how many months of work go into it. So, if you can chair an event, I am volunteering to help out. If you still are interested in making an event near your town possible, contact Rodent Club or whatever club you think is most appropriate for the kind of show you want to do.
I hope I answered all the concerns people here had? If you have any other questions, constructive criticism, or compliments, I'd love to hear it. Reply here or you can send email privately to the club [email protected]
Hope to see you at the next 'Fest!