The BKKS National Koi Show
The BKKS National Koi Show took place on the 14th/15th August and gave the UK koi scene a much needed post Covid, boost of morale!
Possibly the longest running koi show outside of Japan, ‘The National’ has become the UK’s largest outdoor show and this year saw 350 koi on display from exhibitors all around the country. This is an exceptional amount of koi considering the uncertain times we find ourselves in and the fact the show was previously cancelled earlier in the year due to restrictions.
Some shots of the koi arriving on Friday afternoon...
The main show sponsors were Queni Koi, who had a show-stopping stand and Hikari, who despite not being present at the show, supplied some good prizes for the winners! Other dealers and manufacturers present were, Evolution Aqua, The Koi Collection, Walcott Koi, Bermuda, Vyair, Exclusively Koi, Byer Koi Farm, Oase, Burtons and Shirley Aquatics. All of the supporting dealers put on a great spread, with deals a-plenty! Having trade stands is a vital part of the event and a big draw for many attendees. With over a thousand koi enthusiasts supporting the show over the weekend, at times the trade marquees were so busy you couldn't get in them!
The buzz of the show ground was palpable as enthusiasts came together to share their fascination for Nishikigoi! I think many of us had underestimated just how much we needed a good old 'koi social.' Looking around the show ground it was clear to see people enjoying themselves; friends reuniting, people sharing knowledge, talking koi and catching up in general. Social media can be wonderful for connecting with fellow enthusiasts in times of a global pandemic, but as someone said to me "it's great to put a face and personality to the name."
I couldn't agree more!
On Sunday, someone caught me off guard and asked, "what's so good about koi shows then?"
Bold, but we like it.
Something that really struck me on Friday, as the koi were being benched, was that large open shows like The National and the All England, really do offer enthusiasts the rare opportunity to see a great number of exceptional koi. There's not a single koi dealer in the country who can compete with the sheer volume of quality koi (in all varieties) on display at one of these koi shows!
Unless you visit Japan - these koi shows are as good as it gets!
I've also been contemplating the camaraderie of a koi show. Everywhere I looked I could see people connecting and helping one another. In a world where we are pushed more and more into our handheld devices, it's reassuring to see that this wonderful hobby can encourage us to ditch our phones for a few hours and reconnect with people.
Something else to consider is that koi shows help to grow the hobby and drive it forward.
Firstly, on a basic level, a koi show is a brilliant opportunity to open up the community to newcomers and quite literally grow!
Also, although not every koi hobbyist who keeps high quality koi exhibits them, the market for quality koi is somewhat driven by koi shows. The need/want to win prizes drives hobbyists to seek better koi, which in turn pushes dealers to source and supply them. Even if you don't personally exhibit your koi, the quality specimens you do purchase were probably imported as a direct influence of the 'show scene.'
If that's the case... we must then acknowledge the effect the need for high quality koi has on the world of 'koi-tech.' Keeping and rearing high quality koi successfully requires optimum conditions and that includes everything from filtration and food to water purification. The development of which is pushed and driven by the prospect of keeping and rearing koi the likes of which can be seen at UK koi shows! So yes, koi shows are great fun and also very important for the hobby!
Speaking of Koi...
Here are some more fantastic specimens from the weekend, nearly all of which took 1st in their class/size
(please enlarge to see details of the owner)
I mean, the koi themselves are a good enough reason to attend!
Here is a copy of the 'Benching Matrix' which details the number of koi entered in each size and class and gives you an idea of some of the tremendous competition exhibitors faced.
Nabbing a prize in most cases was no easy feat...
I thought the quality of koi on display was really encouraging and so too was the amount of first time exhibitors, offering stiff competition! It was also great to see glimpses of youngsters getting heavily involved. I saw one chap, around the age of 10, talking to his dad about the merits and demerits of a small Goshiki. I also listened in on a group of young teens endlessly reeling off koi varieties and talking about which koi they liked and why!
Truly inspiring and very promising!
It's so important that these koi shows are a success. The success being measured, I suppose, by the positive impact and growth of the hobby and show scene itself. I feel sometimes that perhaps the closed mindedness of a few focusses on how the event can benefit the individual, be that a trophy for an exhibitor or great profits for an attending dealer.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the main point of such large koi shows is to demonstrate (to all that might not know) just how unbelievably special these living jewels are and how fantastic this hobby can be... In doing this, the hobby as a whole benefits and grows, positively impacting everyone involved, which is vital for its longevity.
Inevitably there are always an influx of suggestions after an event of how it could be improved and whilst these are useful and constructive in most cases, I would say that if you're a koi enthusiast with a burning passion to add something to the mix, get involved early doors!
A koi show requires all sorts of brains and brawn!
Organising a show is no easy feat and we must remember that with any given amount of man power, money and resources, there's only so much one can achieve. However, if you consider the hugely versatile skill set of all the UK Koi Enthusiasts and Koi Dealers and then imagine for a moment, if you were able to deploy but a small percentage of those people on "Project Koi Show," just think of what could be achieved...
You only reap what you sow
Koi shows are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, grab a great deal, see new products and maybe even learn a thing or two. Plus, some of the very best koi in the country are on display - what’s not to like!
Remember, this is a show planned, organised, built and staffed by a very small team of incredibly dedicated volunteers and whilst nothing can ever be ‘perfect,’ the show stands as a powerful reminder that the word “can’t” isn’t in a true enthusiast's vocabulary!
Thank you to the sponsors, and thank you to every single exhibitor and volunteer because without you - there wouldn't be a koi show!
If you want to see more winning koi:
'Best In' Awards:
More pics, I hope you enjoy...