Return to Hasselt.
By Colm Southern
In 2008 along with my Dad and some fancier friends from Ireland I attended the last C.O.M world show held in the Belgian City of Hasselt.
I remember that show for good reasons, it was my first visit to a world show and to say I was impressed was an understatement!! I returned this year with high expectations of what I would see. We arrived on Thursday morning and departed on Sunday, having three full days viewing the event, flying into Brussels and getting the train to Hasselt. The snow still lay thick on the ground and daytime temperatures were down to -5 and -6 , on some days
The show was again held in the ethias arena situated on the outskirts of Hasselt, a huge venue akin to an aircraft hangar which is used for events like rock concerts and all sorts of exhibitions.
Nevertheless the hall was comfortably heated. Alas the lighting was dire. If you think Fleetwood is bad, this was worse! The hall, I heard cost COM something like 400,000 euro to hire and they wanted a further 30,000 for improved lighting, which COM refused to hand over.
I was told the birds were judged on stands with special strip lights, all well and good, but the paying punter was left looking at birds in semi darkness! A strict no flash photography rule was enforced by the multitude of stewards which made taking even semi decent pictures a difficulty. Nevertheless I manage a few which I have sent into Stuart for the site. Joel Geldof showed a tremendous team of Borders, which were miles ahead of the opposition; speaking to Joel he told me he entered all his top birds including all those that have done so well for him at the three UK shows he won in 2012. My pick of his birds was his gold medal winning unflighted three parts dark buff hen, he also exhibited two really top class variegated yellow cocks, the first one taking gold. Among his other exhibits a lovely self yellow green hen, another gold medal winner and a three parts dark yellow cock. Joel also won the gold “stam/team” medal with his team of four unflighted clear white hens, featuring his well know winner.
Joel and other fanciers who are experienced at showing at these long events (a week) reckon the birds they show are among the first to come into breeding condition. I heard this repeated so many times by other regular world show competitors that it must be true!
The cages are larger than the Dewar cage and size is tricky to gauge, but in my mind the top birds were well up to standard in this regard. Of the other competitors, another well known Belgian fancier, Paul Huyghie took silver with a very good variegated yellow cock and he also showed a lovely team of four clear yellow hens, again taking silver. More Belgians, partnership Winklemans and Torf took gold with a three parts dark yellow, another lovely bird. A fancier from Spain, Jose Joachim, showed a very good clear yellow hen to take gold
GB’s Mick King was very unlucky in my view not to medal with his excellent clear yellow hen, this was a fantastic border but having spoken to Mick we both reckon that it lost points as its tail was a little spread out, a real pity. Paul Wright should also have medalled with his Clear Buff cock, but it demonstrates the vagaries’ of the points system. I got Mick to take his bird from the staging to take a picture for the site; this almost sparked a mini international incident as a very agitated Belgian steward insisted that the bird be replaced (which it was). His parting salvo was “you English think you are better than everyone else”…I did tell him I was Irish (and that their lighting was s””””e)… but I don’t think that helped the situation!!
There were many fanciers from the UK and Ireland to be seen on the Border section; among those were Mark Symonds, John Barwick, James Wearie, Tony Finn, Noel Hendrick, John Furley, Simon Tamman, Joe Power, and Jim Aitcheson.
I also took some pics of the trade stands and their wares. All similar products fishing in the same pool in my opinion. A highlight for me was an interview I did with specialist avian vet Dr Peter Couteel, who I have purchased products from for many years, which will be sent into the Border Journal, Dr Couteel discussed in detail, Black spot and other illnesses and their treatments.
So all in all an enjoyable few days for me, meeting lots of friends new and old.
Next year the show will be held in Italy, Bari to be precise. If you look at Italy as a boot, Bari is situated on the heel, so a fair old trek for anyone intending to send some birds!