When you arrive at your first show it can all look a bit confusing with people rushing around to get everything ready for judging to begin so as a newcomer, you will need to look for the show secretary. You will usually find them sat at a desk surrounded by paperwork and they’re often near the entrance of the hall or some other prominant location such as on the stage in some venues.
The Show Secretary will give you your pen number and hire pen (if applicable) and will tell you where to put your hamster ready for the Pen Steward to organise ready for judging. You will need to make sure that you have put the correct substrate in your show pen as well as a piece of vegetable for moisture and a dog biscuit which will the club will supply. Once you’ve got everything ready you can check your hamster over and pop them in the show pen. You will need to attach the pen label to the top left of your show pen and you can take it over to the bench. Don’t forget to make a note of your pen number so you can find your hamster later!
If you’ve arrived at the show fairly early you can just put your show pen anywhere on the bench as the Pen Steward probably won’t have sorted them yet but if you’re a little bit later, you’ll probably see the Pen Steward sorting the pens so just ask them where they would like you to put your pen. Once your hamster is on the bench you will not be allowed to remove them or identify them as yours within the Judge’s hearing until the end of the show when the Show Secretary will announce that hamsters can be removed from the bench. This is the perfect opportunity to get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and have a look around the show. Many experienced breeders and exhibitors will be milling around the show so do not hesitate to approach them to ask for advice if they’re not busy with another job. A good opening question to start with is to ask them if they’ve got any hamsters in the main show. Alternatively if you wanted to go for a walk or something then you are free to leave and return later – just make sure that you’re back before the end of the show.
At the end of the show there will be a delay after judging has finished whilst the Show Secretary confirms all the paperwork is present and correct but once this is complete they will announce that hamsters may be lifted from the bench and you can go and collect your hamster. You will notice that the show pens will be in a different order than they were at the start of the show, this is because they will have been sorted into points order with the highest scoring hamsters at one end and the hamsters with less points at the other so this is where the pen number you wrote down at benching will come in handy.
If your hamster has a coloured spot on his or her pen label then congratulations, your hamster has placed in his or her straight class. A red spot means that they have come first, blue for second, yellow for third and green for reserve. Placings for duplicate classes are not indicated on the show pens so make sure you check the table with the prize cards to see if there’s any for you!
Once you’ve got your hamster settled into their carrier for the journey home it’s time to clear up and if you’ve hired a show pen you will need to return it clean to the Show Secretary. You can use something like cage cleaning wipes or some cage cleaning spray and kitchen roll will suffice.