A Brief History of RRV Snowfest

In looking through our club’s history of Snowfest two words come to mind. Foresight-an act of looking forward. Hindsight- the knowledge and understanding that you have about events only after it has happened. I’ll break the history down to before and after the Campbell Strange auction in Chicago. You may check out an article on this auction on this website.

Foresight- In 1981 a plan was set forth by the members of the RRV club to try to share ideas of pigeon racing with each other. We contacted two successful flyers from the North Valley Combine, Horst Hackemer and Ken Wetzel who agreed to come and share their knowledge with fellow fanciers. This event was held in Rock Falls, Il. at the VFW. It was well received by those who attended but the crowd was sparse. Hindsight- good idea, poor advertising. Both agreed to return in 1982. We sent out more notices for the event and also had them bring a few birds to sell. Much bigger turnout for this, everyone was happy.

Foresight- In 1983 we expanded from the VFW and rented a Holiday Inn for a Sunday. The name All American Speak Out was coined. An ad was placed in the Racing Pigeon Bulletin. A seminar featuring Otto Meyer on feather reading plus a report on Emergency Pigeon Communication Project by Dan Konen was given. A buffet dinner was served with a mini auction of pigeons. Hindsight- attendance was great, we were on to something.

For the next 15 years we tried to improve what we were doing. Our goal was to promote more socialization among flyers, to gain knowledge and increase the quality of birds in our area. Flyers from all over were invited to be part of our auction. Willem De Bruijn, Jos Thone , Gommare Verbruggen, Gaby Vandenbeele from Europe not only sent birds but attended and took part in our seminars. East coast flyers Joey Aguiar, owner of widower 1 and 2, New England 600 mile winner, Tom Fahmie, Vinnie Torres, and Tony Melucci. From the south we had Waldo Slie, Ed Minvielle, and Bobbie Gonzalez. The west had Crazy Al, the Jones Boys, Brad LaVerne, Hapyco, Rick Mardis. Seminars provided sharing of techniques to allow us all to learn. Banquets and dancing with bands and DJ,s were added to supply fun and socialization for spouses and families. Ads from 1983 and 1997 are enclosed to see the progression.

Early in 1999 our club was approached by Campbell Strange who wanted us to be the club to sell his main breeders in his sell out auction. Without the past 15 plus years of perfecting our auctions and seminars we would not have been able to meet this request. Imagine having all your club members and spouses getting on a bus and going over 100 miles for a week end to be in charge of the largest auction in the history of the sport in the USA. It was overwhelming even for our experienced club but we did it. Excitement, elation and exhaustion were just some of our feelings after it was all over. Flyers from all over the world were in attendance and all were impressed with how well everything went.

Our club deserved a rest and did not even think about our next auction for about two months but then we started working on Snowfest 2000. Enclosed flyer for 2000. Henk Kuijlaars accompanied Gijs Peters from Holland and took professional pictures of some of our birds that belonged to area flyers. As you can see from the line up of consigners we jumped right back in big time. This format was followed until 2006 when circumstances made us consider some necessary changes. Planning for our Snowfest usually starts a year in advance and requires a big financial commitment from our club. Early in 2006 we were faced with Bird Flu on the west coast, airlines refusing to take birds below a certain temperature and postal shipping problems. To address this we moved our auction date from Dec to the first week end in November and decided to have birds for sale that had been bred out of previous Snowfest birds. This worked fairly well for 2006 and 2007 but in 2008 we went back to our old format of having consigners from all over the world. We kept the November date because of weather concerns of post office and airlines.

Selling of birds has changed greatly since we started in 1981. Auction websites and individual websites of breeders are available at a click of a mouse. Our club still believes in our original foresight of improving the sport through better pigeons and sharing of knowledge. A lot of pigeon flyers like to look and handle the bird before purchasing. We allow them the opportunity to do so. If you want to talk and learn from other flyers the RRV Snowfest would welcome you.

Hindsight- In the words of the Grateful Dead, “what a long strange trip it’s been”. I would like to thank all of our consigners from the past. Horst Hackemer, Ken Wetzel, Otto Meyer, Bob Koch, Tony Rossi, Steve Lawler, Peeman Loft, John Leone, Willem DeBruijn, Tom Fahmie, Bobbie Gonzalez, Roger Mortvedt, Ed Minvielle, Jim Gabler, Tony Melucci, Gommare Verbruggen, Brad Laverne, John Sampson, Gaby Vandenabeele, Gijs Peters, Oak Haven Farm, CBS Rick Mardis, Frank McLaughlin, Waldo Slie, Ray Torres, Steve Buehler, Alex Bieche, Franciso Hernandez, Jones Boys, Jim Mccabe, Crazy Al, Chic and Judy Brooks, Randall Berky, Ken Christopher, Mike Brown, Don Hart, John Lucchese, Campbell Strange, Rick Nanez, Dakota Loft, Hoggan Loft, Eric and Erio Alvarez, Big Andy, Joe Carini, Quest Syndicate, Danny Hutchins, Ron Deisher, Grey Fox and Harms Loft, No Fear Loft, Willem Van Rij, Theo deKruijk, Joey Aguair, and Jos Thone. If I missed anyone it wasn’t intentional but some of our records in the late 80’s and early 90’ are missing. RRV club members past and present should be proud of their hard work and dedication not only for our club but for the foresight of thinking of the future of our sport through friendships we all have developed with flyers all over the world. It’s been a pleasure to be part of it.

Gary Whitebread, RRV Club President
(Sept. 2015)