Top Dog Challenge highlights hunter breeds in action

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KEMPTON - If it really is a dog's world, then each summer the world gets bigger when the annual Lehigh Valley Hunting and Fishing Extravaganza (LVHFE) is held at the Kempton Fairgrounds.

One of the highlights of the three-day show held the last full weekend of August is Sunday's Top Dog Challenge, a timed event for pointers, flushers and beagles - or any breed of hunting dog. Conducted by Mark Wolfskill and his staff from Pheasant Valley Farm, Robesonia, dog handlers release their dogs in a designated area to flush gamebirds that have been planted.

This year's B.Y.O.D. (bring your own dog) event is Sunday, Aug. 25, beginning at 9 a.m. Like most of the events at the hands-on LVHFE, there is no entry fee, but prizes are awarded to the three top dogs that flush their birds in the least amount of time. Registration will be held Friday and Saturday at the Pheasant Valley booth and at the staging area Sunday, with the field limited to 20 entries.

In addition to overseeing the Top Dog Challenge, Wolfskill and Pheasant Valley Farm guide and dog trainer Karen Keen will present training seminars for bird dogs. Their presentations are Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m.

"We're always looking for events that people enjoy doing, and when we came up with the Top Dog Challenge four years ago, it was a winner," LVHFE co-promoter Bob Danenhower said. "Probably the best example of how popular this event is that when we had to shut down the show on Sunday two years ago because of the hurricane, some people still managed to get to the fairgrounds with their dogs."

This year's LVHFE gets under way Friday, Aug. 23, from noon to 8 p.m., and continues Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Now in its eighth year, the show has a variety of outfitters and retailers, but the focus is on contests, hands-on participation and educational seminars.

"This is a family experience with adults from regional and statewide sportsmen's groups volunteering their time and talents as youth mentors of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other youngsters attending the show," co-promoter Rick Weaknecht said. "In addition to everything else, we've maintained the bow fair my dad started years ago and even expanded it with new shooting events, including the 50-target 3-D shoot."

New this year is the inaugural LVHFE photography contest, which has the theme of "Get Outdoors" and is open to all ages to interpret the theme in any manner they choose. Photographs must be mounted on mat board no larger than 16 x 20 inches, and individuals may submit a maximum of three entries.

Voting will be done by those attending the show and the results will be announced Sunday at noon. Entries will be accepted Friday after 10 a.m.

This year's Pennsylvania Outdoors Skills Competition sponsored by Cabela's Hamburg store will feature new events in the adult competition for men and women ages 16 and older. Competition includes outdoors skills of marksmanship, and competitors are permitted to use their own shotgun, bow and fishing rod or those provided.

An addition to the Outdoors Skills Competition for women is a special drawing being held by Leslie Smith, the Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator for the National Wild Turkey Federation's Women In The Outdoors program.

In addition to the contests, two people have the opportunity to be winners by merely registering for two prizes. One youngster will win a Remington Youth Model 870 shotgun and an adult will win a duck hunt donated by guide Randy Birch, owner of Chincoteague Island Outfitters in Virginia.

Saturday, individuals or sportsmen's organizations have the opportunity to sell used outdoors equipment in the Outdoorsmen's Flea Market. Last year's sale of hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, scouting and military related items was the biggest to date.

A complete schedule of events for the Lehigh Valley Hunting and Fishing Extravaganza is available on the website at; show hours are Friday, Aug. 23, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 24, and Sunday, Aug. 25, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; for information call Bob Danenhower at (610) 398-7609 or Rick Weaknecht at (610) 683-7405.

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