We have just returned from an 800+ mile road trip originating from Dallas, Texas to visit their show. Despite the distance, it was definitely worth it.
The thing I love the most about visiting these Koi shows all over the country is seeing all the friends I perhaps only get to see a few times a year. Koi friendships are special because the frequency of visits seems to be only secondary to the passion that is shared among Koi people.
Duc Nguyen, who has trademarked Dallas with his “Duc Shake”, was unfortunately not around this year. Since his move to the east coast, his presence was very much missed at the Koi show as several people with whom I have spoken to have shared with me. Taking his (daunting) place as Show Chairman was John Ames and Tom Walker, who shared the responsibilities as a co-chairpeople, and may I say I think they did a fantastic job despite the expected-but-never-anticipated hiccups in the course of preparing for a show. The forever beautiful Jennifer Walker took care of water management and did no less than the wonderful job she usually does at every show. In charge of the Koi Show Database was May Wong, whose bright spirit and warm smile always manages to shine through despite the serious business of database management (and she definitely knows how to kick back and relax after a long day’s work! I should take lessons from her….) And what Texas Koi Show would be complete without the ? The warm-hearted and ever cheerful Ray Jordan (who wouldn’t be “ever-cheerful” if you were married to the wonderful Martha Jordan?), Carsten “Sharp-eye” Pedersen (explanation to follow), Jason “Silent-but-deadly” Wong (quiet about his fishes, but wins two of the top three awards in the show) Sexified Bill Toohey (he seems to drop 10 more lbs. every time I see him!), and last but most certainly not the least, the “indestructible” Mac McGreevy.
I want to dedicate a special paragraph to this man who is embodies the spirit and passion for Koi in a quite unparalleled manner. Mac McGreevy was only last week in the hospital for rather serious reasons (the exact nature of his conditions are unconfirmed, but are definitely rather grave). Ray Jordan, being the thoughtful and caring person that he is, informed us of the situation and urged us to keep him in our prayers. Well, those prayers must have worked because lo and behold, there was Mac who had not only came to the Koi Show, but also caught, netted, bagged and released his own fish! Did I fail to mention the hundred degree weather in which this all took place? Yes, I did. This all took place is a hundred-plus degree weather. You would think that through all this, Mac would show in his face weariness and exhaustion, but everyone in the venue had the same thing to say, “Mac looks so happy right now.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is Koi Kichi.
My dad, Michael Hernandez of Kois and Ponds, came along for the ride (he chickened out and took a plane this time around, though) and offered his services to the club as a photographer, bencher, and whatever other “-er” they might need.
We had the chance to catch up with several hobbyists who were at the show including Bob Bodin and Randy from Oklahoma, Michael Starkey, Tom Tran, Ryan Vo, Don Walker and Arley Hulstrand. We also had the chance to meet some new vendors from Kleinholz Koi Farm in Oklahoma in the person of Dr. Conrad Kleinholz and his son Kurt. Other vendors who were present at the show were TOMiGAi Dealers Devin Swanson of Koi Acres’ as well as Shin Kawayoke and his wife Setsuko from Koi Supply of Japan, Connie Freihoff, Dennis from Razorback Koi, and Tony from Polytank.
Thanks to the support of Polytank who brought in high-quality hard tanks, this year’s show found that both setting up and breaking down took both half the time and effort that it normally does. The deal was very reasonable and the club was quite grateful for the respite from the exhaustion of having to manually dry and towel off the collapsible tanks.
The judges from the show was Dave Young who was accompanied by the effervescent Debbie Young (a.k.a. Bay Bateman’s Sister), Bob Winkler, who brought along with him not only his beautiful wife, but also his delightful mother-in-law who was quite the hoot to be around (She reminds me of my own grandmother back in the Philippines), and the head judge, Henry Culpepper.
This year, the Dallas Koi Kichi Club decided to do something new that has (perhaps?) never been done in an American Koi Show before. They would hail a Supreme Grand Champion that would not necessarily be a gosanke but would be something that the judges consider to be the best Koi in the show. That prestigious award went to Jason and May Wong for their beautiful Kohaku. [For a complete list and photos of the winners of the show, please click here]
Another event particular to the Texas Koi Shows is the “Sweepstakes”, wherein a hobbyists winnings are tallied and given points based on their award, and the hobbyist who has the most points receives the coveted “sweepstakes award”. Mac McGreevy has the honor of presenting this award, and in his own words he is “just tired” of giving this award to the same person every year. Who else but Carsten “Sharp-eye” Pedersen, whose talent for picking beautiful fish is both well-known and respected among his peers (hence the name “Sharp-eye”)
While I was going around the tanks, I noticed a very familiar looking fish, but whose owner seemed not to be there. Duc’s Sanke, which was entered in the previous year, was in a tank shared by unfamilar fishes. John Ames explained what had happened. Everyone in the Koi industry knows the frustration yet unavoidability (is that a word? spell-check says it isn’t…oh well) of disasters happening in ponds. Well, such was the case that happened to John’s fishes, where only two Koi survived. Hearing about his loss, Duc Nguyen, who was looking for a place to keep his Koi while finding a place to settle down in the east coast, offered to give him one of his own fish in an effort to help John rebuild his collection. It was this fish that was awarded the TOMiGAi Friendship award, which emulated the meaning of “friendship through Koi”.
Before I end this (rather lengthy!) blog post, I cannot help but talk about one last thing that is not to be missed in Texas. Those close to me know how much I love food (shh….it’s a secret!) and Texas is one place wherein the meat is not to be missed! Kudos to the club for having such a wonderful dinner of steak and ribs during the banquet! 🙂
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. The warm days was out shone only by the warmth of the people. My only regret is that the weekend was too short and I did not have the opportunity to spend as much time with everyone as I would have like to… I look forward to the next show with much anticipation, though! Look out, Potomac! here I come!