Southeastern Treeing Walker event an annual gathering for many

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 24, 2012

By Wayne Hinshaw
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — An estimated 5,000 Treeing Walker dog fans and owners from 30 states and Canada are at the Rowan County Fairgrounds this weekend for the 39th Annual Southeastern Treeing Walker Days dog show.
And that’s not to mention the number of dogs there.
This is the 25th straight year Rowan has hosted the show, which an economic impact study a few years ago showed generates more than $2 million for the area, according to Randy Hall, association president.
They keep coming back because Rowan County has a “great guide base” for the coon hunt, Hall said.
A guide provides the land for the nightly hunts during the event. Hall added that this show is the second- or third-largest hunt show in the United States. It is the largest breed hunt in the nation, he said.
One of the most faithful annual visitors is Ashley Dalton from Harts, W.Va. He has attended 17 straight shows. A coal miner back home, he brings his entire family with him every year.
“Every year, this is our annual vacation at the show,” Dalton said. “I have about 20 family members here this year. Out of all the championships and competitions around the U.S., this is our favorite one.
“The facility is great for old coon hunters. Everyone here is your friend. Everyone seems to know each other, and that’s crazy when there are 5,000 people. I guess it is the Southern hospitality.”
It has been good for Dalton’s business as well. He breeds dogs and sells the pups at the show. He has been successful in the hunt competition. His retired dog, “Legendary Trap,” has won the hunt championship three straight years. That means his dog treed the most raccoons the fastest on the hunts.
“It’s an enjoyable hobby. You do the competition for the prestige of winning,” he said. “You do love your dogs. I have five dogs now — three dogs for hunting and two female dogs for breeding.”
Andrew Rectenwald, from Scott Depot, W.Va., is visiting for the seventh time.
He said that his dogs “had done pretty good in the past in the competitions. We meet new people each year and see old friends. I enjoy the dogs, but I’m not in it for the money.”
Coming from Cleveland, Tenn., Corey Taylor purchased his first dog last month and is showing her for the first time. He hopes his dog, “American Honey,” shows well.
Ottie Burke, of West Virginia, laughed and said, “You see some really good dogs here, and then there are some bad dogs, too.”
The hunt coordinator is former Faith Elementary School principal Bobby Shives. He has a local school’s athletic department lined up to handle the concessions as a fundraiser for the school.
The Thursday night coon hunt is named in memory of the late Allen Shoe from Kannapolis. Randy Leonard, from Virginia, won the hunt.
The show continues today at the fairgrounds on Julian Road. Bench show judging will begin at 9:30 a.m. The $2 parking fee raises funds for the Hunters for Youth program.