I flew out from San Diego to Milwaukee on Thursday, January 15, the same day a plane in New York had both engines extinguished by a flock of birds, landing, safely and amazingly, in the Hudson River. It was eerie watching such news while flying across the country. The birds were geese and one has to wonder why this flock hadn’t already flown south as “absolutely frigid” is the only way to describe most of the country the week of the 62nd International Mink and Fox Show.
It was in the 80s in San Diego when I left, below 0 when I arrived in Milwaukee and it stayed there, dropping at times to minus 20 Fahrenheit with the wind chill factor. Thank goodness for my mink coat! Even inside, we kept our coats handy.
Still outside, looking in, were two brave souls who endured the freezing cold for a short time in their synthetic clothes to protest the “furriers” inside. I thought of telling them that the convention hall was full of farmers, and that there was not a furrier to be found since they have little interest in feed carts and farming supplies, and winter is their peak selling season. But the next time I looked, the protesters had disappeared, maybe under a snow drift.
The number of booths at this year’s show stayed the same as last, at 36, with 21 actual vendors. But it came as no surprise, given the current economic climate, that attendance was down a shade to 297, 35 fewer than last year.
Farmers and their marketing experts from the North American auction houses looked to the 2009 auction season as taking place in a challenging economic climate. But they felt confident that they had the finest goods to offer the world. The pelts being displayed were nothing short of stunning – another excellent crop.
By early February, the Kopenhagen auction results were in that the fur businesss was going strong. The resoundingly cold weather around the world, combined with stunning fur fashions, were trumping the economic blues.
As always, the International Mink Show included informative and popular seminars sponsored by National Feed, and a question-and-answer session with veterinarians.
Also popular were the pelt judging competitions. 2009’s entries in both mink and fox pelts were at record highs. In the mink show, Dale Williams was named Grand Champion for his extra dark mahogany females, with Carl Salo taking Reserve Champion for his medium dark iris females.
Among the fox farmers, both Best of Show and Runner-Up Silver went to Terry Littig. Best of Show Mutation went to Rob Roman, with Littig again taking Runner-Up.
Congratulations to all!
And when all the hard work was over, we relaxed in traditional style with a fabulous dinner and Casino Night. FCUSA donated several Furry Friends to support the show which were a hit as prizes to the best gamblers.
Wisconsin’s 61st Alice in Dairyland, Ashley Huibregtse, gave an eloquent speech and gratefully modeled a gorgeous mink jacket presented to her by the Kettle Moraine Mink Breeders Association, partially underwritten by an FCUSA grant. To read Ashley’s account of her time in Milwaukee, view her travel journal here.
As always, thanks are due to the Show’s organizing committee, in particular Ron Gengel and Jim Wachter. Thanks also to Mike McClay and his wife who manned the front desk, ensuring that the event ran smoothly.