See you next year: UKC makes 2014 plans official
By Billy Davis
and Rita Howell
As if there was any doubt after a record-breaking first run, the United Kennel Club officially announced this week it will return to Batesville in 2014 for the 27th annual Winter Classic.
“It’s my pleasure to inform you that it’s official... we’re coming back to Batesville next year and for more to come,” Tanya Raab, vice president of Corporate Operations, said in an e-mail announcing the decision.
“The hospitality shown to us by the community, accompanied with the outstanding hunting and club support, made it an easy decision,” said Raab.
The UKC Winter Classic combines two nights of coon hunting with a bench show of coonhound breeds. After a 25-year run in Albany, Georgia, the UKC surprised its host city — and lots of coondog enthusiasts — with plans to move its event to the Batesville Civic Center.
The first run in Batesville last January broke Winter Classic records for participating hunters and bench show entrees.
Batesville Civic Center director Roy Hyde said his staff has had to make few changes to satisfy the UKC since the January event, which ran January 25, 26 and 27.
“I’m very glad to see the response was overwhelmingly favorable and awfully glad to have them back,” Hyde said.
UKC’s press release stated, “The perfect location to host a National level coonhound Nite Hunt and Bench Show is hard to find. It must blend excellent hunting, an excellent satellite club network, generous community support and an outstanding facility. This facility allows UKC to take the event to a new and unprecedented level.
“The inaugural Batesville event, the 26th Annual UKC Winter Classic in 2013, garnered a positive response from competitors. Club and guide support was equally encouraging. The central location makes the hunt more accessible than ever before, and the Batesville Civic Center offers a stadium atmosphere never before experienced in the sport. It is UKC’s goal is to propel Winter Classic into a coonhound event unlike anything else available,” the press release continued.