Coon dog event hosted by Albany this weekend
Jan 28, 2016
By Brad McEwen, Albany Herald
ALBANY — Coon hunters and coon dog lovers from across the country will be arriving in Albany this weekend to take part in one of the nation’s most prestigious coon dog events as the annual American Kennel Club (AKC) Southern Heritage Hunt and Show takes place at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.
The hunt and show will take place Friday and Saturday, and is open to all coon hounds with no pre-qualifying or advanced entries required.
Now in its fourth year the Southern Heritage Hunt and Show, which is hosted by the South Georgia Coon and Squirrel Hunters Association, and sponsored by The Exchange Club of Albany, the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), and Albany Beverage Company, is quickly becoming one the nation’s top coon dog events.
What makes this weekend’s event a strong draw for coon hunters is that it is a qualifying event for the 2016 World Coon Hunting Championship Hunt and Show held each year in Homerville, Ohio, and the 2016 World Sportsmix Championship.
The weekend’s festivities will feature two nights of coon hunts, with registration open until 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The entry fee for each hunt is $35 per participant, each of which will then be eligible for the 10 placements awarded each night.
Trophies will be awarded to each night’s hunt winner, and each night’s winner and the overall winner for the weekend will receive a custom embroidered jacket from Dan’s Southern Heritage. Second place winners will receive a .22 caliber auto rifle, third place will receive a full size diamond plate dog box with storage, and those placing fourth will receive a Kelley’s K-Light.
The overall winner, which will be decided in a special, one hour hunt Saturday evening, that features the top two high score dogs from each night’s hunt, will also receive $1,000 to go along with bragging rights.
The Southern Heritage Hunt and Show will also include a dog show, featuring different coon dog breeds, on Saturday morning. Entries for competing in the dog show begin at 9 a.m. and the show itself will start at 11 .m. The entry fee for anyone wishing to show a dog is $20. Dogs earning an open or a championship class win will then qualify for the 2015 World Show. The overall show winner will also receive an embroidered jacket from Dan’s Southern Heritage.
Area residents who want to come out to the fairgrounds to enjoy the event festivities may do so free of charge, and event organizers encourage a crowd.
Jimmy Phillips, who has been instrumental in organizing the event over the years, said support from the community and the event sponsors has played an important part in helping to grow the profile of the show.
“The community has been very good to us,” said Phillips. “The city of Albany has been very supportive and our sponsors are very important.”
Rashelle Beasley, executive director of the CVB, which serves as a co-sponsor, said the reason the CVB supports the event is that it helps raise Albany’s profile outside of the community and helps to contribute to an estimated $100,000 in economic impact annually.
“We’re thrilled to support this event each year,” said Beasley. “Each year participants utilize our local services, stay in our hotels and dine in our restaurants. That’s hugely important for the community as we continue to grow.”
The Southern Heritage Hunt and Show is also important to the Exchange Club.
“The event is important to the Exchange Club because it helps us raise money for child abuse,” said Phillips. “It’s totally a benefit hunt. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to continue doing the hunt each year.”
To learn more about the AKC Southern Heritage Hunt and Show and directions to the fairgrounds visit www.akccoonhounds.org/events/great-big-event-title/ or contact Phillips at (229) 894-8550.
Owners needing to rent pen space for their dogs for the event can do so as well, and can contact Phillips for rental information. Owners will be asked for proof of rabies vaccination.