[ Jack Helder wrote the following article, as titled above, for the June 1994--Volume 24, Issue 6--of the MGA Bulletin. I've only edited the bullet numbers. Here's what event planning for MGA entailed a quarter of a century ago. ]
First, let me tell you that there are three reasons for this article: 1) to explain why your name may or may not appear on the premium for a given trial; 2) to explain how a premium is put together so that it's a matter of record; 3) to find out if someone has a programlPC combination better than our Microsoft Word 4.0 and little Macintosh SE and would like to take over the job of premium preparation next year.
Anybody who’s ever put together a premium for a coursing weekend can tell you it's no simple task. Having done them for a couple years now, I fully appreciate what Denis went through before me, and what Chris Allen did for so many years. Putting out a premium requires a total estimated time of about 20-30 hours of work over several weeks. Here's a quick checklist of how it's done:
Get a Field Trial Secretary. FTS is the most difficult job for a trial, and requires—including the trial and work before and after the trial—around 30-35 hours of work within a two-week period. To think that Chris Allen used to put out a premium AND be FTS boggles my mind. We all owe her a much-belated debt of gratitude.
Get judges. Usually 4-5 months in advance. When doing so, you have to consider several issues. First, you want good judges. Second, you want affordable judges, which means they can't all come from more than 150 miles away or the Club pays a big tab. Third, you don't want to keep using the same judges, even though you like them—you should mix it up a bit and try a new judge from time to time. Fourth, your judges must be currently licensed, according to FAN. This will take several long-distance phone calls, and you can decide whether this is a contribution you make to the Club or if it requires reimbursement. If you tend to be chatty on such calls and don't stick to business in a couple minutes, you shouldn't expect reimbursement.
Get Field Trial Chairmen for each day of the trial. The FTC is responsible for getting the site, making sure the field is set up, and handling any protests or disputes on the day of the trial, and cleaned up afterward. This job is a piece of cake in MGA, because no matter who you put down, Denis Seeley, Mike Berry, and Art Castle do most of the work anyhow. Anybody willing to step up and help them by getting to the site early would be appreciated.
Get a Field Trial Committee for each day of the trial. This is difficult. Neither I nor the Club have enough money (or time) for me to call around and ask who can work which days of a trial. I try to ask at meetings, but these are so under-attended that I could not fill out a committee from all who are there. So what do you do? You make it up. You try to remember work schedules, who's running what breeds, who's been overused in the past, who's indicated they'd like to help, who's never offered, and you create a committee as best you can. Some people get angry because you put them down for a day they won't be there, but most understand that you're just doing the best you can with a little information. Then you try to put that together in such a way that someone won't call you a sexist or be irritated because you put their two breeds too close together, or... in other words, you try to please 99 percent of the people, and it usually works.
You make sure all the information in the premium is updated according the ASFA standards (i.e. the entry form changed this year, and other language sometimes changes).
You update all the information for the trial dates, including places to stay, directions, etc. You ask Denis to send you course designs for each day; you ask Mike and Linda to rewrite the directions to a site because they live nearby—that kind of thing.
Then you print the whole thing out and, if you're like me, paste it all up on separate sheets of paper. My computer program (or my ignorance of desktop[) just won't deal with creating the pages in the proper layout. You print three copies of this initial layout.
Send two copies of the completed premium to the ASFA Scheduling Chairperson (at least 45 days in advance of the trial date). It's currently Ariel Duncan, in New Jersey, and she has the eyes of a Peregrine Falcon. She misses nothing, and no matter how many times I've done this, I have mistakes. She sends back corrections. If they are serious, like you've messed up the judging assignments (given more than three breeds to a Provisional Judge, that sort of thing), you have to send it back and wait for her approval before you're ready.
You look for the cheapest printer you can find. I just found one that charges only 4 cents a page. Once approved, you make one last clean and hopefully perfect paste-up of each page, then you take it to the printers. You have all pages double-sided, when possible, except the entry form. And each day should be different colors, because the FT Sec'y has an easier time when the entry forms for each day are a different color. You must also choose a paper that is opaque, not transparent, and one that is reasonably light in weight, because postage cost is an issue (the goal is a 29 cent stamp, but for a three-day trial that's difficult).
You weigh a copy of all the pages to find out what postage you need to buy. Then you buy about 150 of what you need.
You take home the printed pages and assemble and staple (twice on the open edge) and address and stamp each premium. (Linda Waltl has now thankfully taken over maintaining the databases for MGA, so you have hopefully asked her to send you labels a week ago.) I like to make sure the premium goes into the mail a month prior to the trial date.
You take the entire batch to the post office and then you go buy a fifth of Bourbon and you drink very much of it.
So you see, if you express irritation to me because you didn't get assigned the job you wanted, or that you were assigned anything at all, don't be surprised at the goofy grin on my face, or if I snap at you like an angry Basenji. The best solution is for all of you to let me—or whoever is doing the premium—know what you want and what days you’ll be available. And do that at least two months in advance of the trial date, because that's when the premium is being put together.
If you don't, I'll just act like a playwright and people the stage willy-nilly from my imagination.
And I would like to find someone willing to take on this task next year. I would be happy to help, even do the judges selection or whatever, but there are other things I probably will be doing next year that will make this difficult for me to manage. I can hand over Macintosh files on all our trials that can be relatively easily revised. Volunteers, please step forward.