As September ends, each year since 1987 Sampson State Park in Romulus, N.Y., about 55 miles south west of Syracuse, transforms itself into a dog show city. This week, staff at the Finger Lakes region state park in Romulus, N.Y., members of the Wine Country Cluster (WCC) committee and a crew of workers are preparing the grounds for Wednesday, Sept. 28th’s arrival of more than 2500 dog show exhibitors and spectators for the Wine Country Cluster.
Four central New York all-breed dog clubs host 2011’s Wine Country circuit activities: Finger Lakes Kennel Club (Ithaca); Elmira Kennel Club (Elmira); Onondaga Kennel Association (Syracuse) and Kanadasaga Kennel Club (Canandaigua). The conformation shows, and obedience, rally and agility trials run from 8:30 a.m. until late afternoon. Thursday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 2.
In addition to filling up nearby motels, nearly 600 exhibitors make the park campgrounds their home for the weekend at over 500 campsites spread over one portion of the park’s 2000 acres of rolling fields, woodland and ravines. Wine Country campers can begin to check into the park on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Sampson has been closed to public (non-dog show) camping reservations since Sept. 25, and will reopen to public camping from Oct. 3 – 9, before closing for the season.
Setting up for the four-day show circuit includes placing over 15 circus-style tents to create spectator shelter around 17 conformation rings, two agility rings, two obedience rings, a rally ring, the show superintendent’s on-site office, and cluster committee/show-giving club operations. Outside the camp registration building, two tubs and hoses are set up for on-site dog bathing. Inside the registration building, the show committee offers area information, and clubs set up the eye and cardiac clinics.
Daily special events at the show site
- Eye clinics: Friday and Saturday, park registration building
- Cardiovascular clinics: Friday and Saturday, park registration building
- Lure coursing CAT courses: Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- AKC sighthound field trials (lure coursing): Saturday and Sunday
- Breed specialties and supported entries: Thursday through Sunday
- For detailed schedules for each day of conformation, obedience, rally and agility judging, check out 2011 Wine Country Circuit: Sampson State Park goes to the dogs
Syracuse Dog Training’s Field Guide to Sampson State Park
What does the campground look like?
The Wine Country camping brochure shows a small line drawing of the park on page 8. ReserveAmerica, which normally handles all reservations for New York state parks, also features a general park description and Sampson State Park campground map. The clearest park map is on the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (NYOPRHP) It shows the park’s 245 permanent campsites, 64 of the regular overflow non-electric sites, parking lots, water taps, phones, picnic and playground areas, shelters, the beach, boat launches and marina. Sampson opens about 190 non-electric overflow sites just for Wine Country circuit camping.
Where am I going?
Visitors to the Wine Country circuit are greeted by sponsoring club members selling catalogs at the park entrance booth along Sampson Blvd. (unsigned). These volunteers direct incoming vehicles ahead to campground registration or to parking adjacent to the rings for each type of event. The first rings visible on the right of the road into the park shelter the cluster’s specialty shows. A roadway to the right off the entrance road carries campers away from the show rings to the park registration office. Visitors who take this route will pass the RV dumping station as they head into the office parking lot.
Next on the right side and perpendicular to the entrance road, visitors see the tents for the grooming area, photographer, club and superintendent’s office, a shuttle bus stop, and the ambulance of the on-site emergency medical team. About half of the conformation rings and spectator tents run parallel to the entrance road to the right, and visitors can catch glimpses of vendor tents on the far side of the rings.
To the left and parallel to the entrance road is the main parking area for the conformation rings, and the day parking area. After the first intersection past the main parking area, visitors will see on the left the rings and tents for the obedience and rally trials, and the Soldiers and Sailors museum. Parking for obedience and rally events is behind the museum. On the right, food vendors and more specialty vendors separate the conformation rings from the rings and tents for the agility trials.
At the end of the entrance road, visitors see some of 250 non-electric overflow campsites (loop 6 on campground maps along with 190 non-electric sites created just for the circuit exhibitors each year.) Turn to the left for the entrance to the obedience and rally parking area. To the right, the road leads to the access roads to the overflow loops, marina and camp store (on the left.) The camp store has a food concession that serves breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and ice cream cones during the circuit.
Continue along the roadway past the entrance to loop 6 and the marina, to get to the RV dumping station entrance (right) and campground registration office parking area (left.)
What facilities are in the campground?
A ravine perpendicular to the main driving road separates two loops of overflow non-electric campsites from five loops of campsites that offer electric hookups. The open overflow sites (overflow #1 and #2 for the dog show, or loop 6 and unmarked areas on the NYOPRHP map) have access to porta-potties as well as a rest station with hot showers, toilets, sinks, and water taps. The non-electric sites are also closest to the concession stand, the show rings and the beach/marina. Some non-electric sites have firepits and picnic tables.
The wooded and tree-lined electric sites in loops 1-5 each have a gravel parking pad, picnic table, firepit and a 20 or 30v electric hookup. Each loop has water faucets but the individual sites do not have water/sewer RV hookups. A wash house is in the center of each loop, with toilets, hand and utility sinks and hot showers. Some loops have a small kids playground. Loop 2 features the campground’s handicapped access sites, which are level and within walking distance of the washroom.
Who you gonna call?
Sampson has pay phones near the concession stand, by the beach and marina, and outside the camp office.
Those little extras?
The camp office and concession stand have soda and bottled water vending machines.
The concession stand sells some camping supplies, batteries, ice and firewood. Since western N.Y. counties are under quarantine to contain the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer beetles, firewood restrictions are in place at Sampson State Park. It is illegal for individuals to move untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Campers moving firewood must be able to prove it has been treated or that it came from within the 50-mile limit from their camping location.
What if you just gotta go?
Comfort station porta-potties are available in multiple locations on the show grounds in the upper portion of the park, including the area between the specialty rings and grooming tent; between the conformation rings and the vendor tents; near the agility rings; and near the Soldiers & Sailors Veterans Museum to serve the obedience and rally rings. In the campground areas, porta-potties are available throughout the overflow camping loops. The park registration building has heated indoor restrooms. Each of the campground loops and the beach area near the overflow camping areas features a heated building with restrooms, hand and laundry sinks and hot showers.
Need more information about Sampson State park? See part 2 of WCC: Dog Show field guide to Sampson State Park.
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