The Olympic Kennel Club was formed in 1944 (after World War II). The early members were Weimaraner fanciers and the early shows were held in conjunction with other clubs, such as the Metropolitan Kennel Club, later renamed the Seattle Kennel Club.
Several dog clubs held their shows at the downtown Seattle Armory, now known as the Seattle Center. The dog shows in the former days were bench shows, where the dogs were on display so the general public had an opportunity to see what each breed of dog was like and had a chance to ask the breeders/owners about the breed of dog they were interested in. It was an area affording newcomers an opportunity to learn from the experienced breeders and owners.
Bench shows were labor intensive to put on. It required benching equipment and after the show it required storing the equipment until the next show. By the mid 1950's most clubs had abandoned the bench show and went on to hold shows in the format we see them today.
From the earlier pictures we have, it appears the club founders held their earlier shows indoors in the Renton area. From 1950 on, the shows were held in the Renton Memorial Stadium. In 1973, the school district installed astro turf requiring Olympic Kennel Club to relocate its show site. The club was fortunate to find the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, where our shows are still held today. This site is now known as the Enumclaw Expo Center.
Prior to 1979 the club was a two-day single show dividing the six groups, three groups each day, with Best In Show held on Sunday. Gradually entries declined. Handlers felt it was not economically feasible to attend one show in two days and at the same time, there was the gas shortage. It was at that time the club decided to hold 2 shows in one weekend, which provided to be a great success.
Since the first president, Mr. Olson, there have been many who have served in this position, including Stewart Makley, Clifford Collins, Wayne Magill, David Lee, Betty Winthers and Harvey Mueller. Betty Winters is still an active member today. Since becoming a Member Club of the American Kennel Club, former members Dr. Lyman Fisher, Charles Baris and Harvey Mueller have served as the club's AKC Delegate. Our current Vice President and AKC Delegate is Betty Winthers.
Three Presidents made significant contributions to the club’s continued success: Stewart Makley was a mentor to new members. He made great effort to locate a new venue for the show and was the one who located the club's current show site at the Enumclaw Expo Center. Betty Winthers worked with the American Kennel Club to change the single show to a two show weekend. She also introduced Agility to be held in conjunction with the show weekend. Harvey Mueller encouraged specialty club participation to help enlarge the entries to the present day show weekend, thus making Olympic Kennel Club the largest single club show in the nation. He also worked with the local 4-H groups to encourage future participation in the dog fancy.
Members who also made important contributions: Stewart and Loretta Makley, Ila Clark, Clifford and Nell Collins, Lilly Fowler, Noel and Lillian Bergh, Tillie and Robert Geiger, Lois and Chuck Kletsch, Lillian Miller, Margaret Shepard, Sheila Smith, Ann Stober, and Jennie and Lewis Roberts.
The success of the club can be attributed to the continued camaraderie of the membership working together to put on quality shows, educate the public to be responsible dog owners and awareness of good canine legislation and the desire to fulfil their obligation to the fancy and its future participants.
By Betty Winthers, Club Historian