'Hey Presto, Showa!' event, 17th November '19

Our 2019 grow and show event was one of the busiest weekend's we've had this year. We hosted the event on the 17th November, and it was well attended. Many returning faces, and some new ones too.

The 'Hey Presto Showa' event is a biggie in our calendar, and it felt appropriate to start with a group picture of the entrants.

We laid out 150 Showa for people to choose from, each with a certificate. This 'picking' area of our event space became quite crowded with much interest over which koi were being picked.
Mike Thompson (left), and Tony Thompson (right) helped us run the event. And.. it became evident early on that the complexity of running a development based grow and show event needed many more helpers; and several of the other entrants stepped up and lent a hand. I'm almost certainly going to miss someone off the list, but these impromptu helpers who lent a hand with the last bits of set up, and also with matching the koi to it's certificate after each pick; they included:Amir, Stephen Barnsley, Graham Tagg, Glenn & Jo Jenkins , Phil Barker & his daughter Jess, Simon Getley, Tony Gaskin. Also, David Coulby and Rachel Kerr helped extensively in the bagging & boxing area. Many thanks to all those who helped out.

Picture taken 10th November (1 week before the event)

The general principle for our autumn event, is to offer koi from one of our non-Kohaku spawnings of a level that we would otherwise be growing on and selling in the spring; and to do that in the format of a grow and show competition. It gives hobbyists a chance to pick up something of higher quality a bit earlier in the koi’s life than they would typically have access to. We also aim to make the event cheap to enter and fun.

Last autumn, we used our Ogon spawning for the event and made the best growers from the spawning available and called the event ‘Shooting Stars’; The winner took full advantage and grew 4 ‘Shooting Stars’ koi to 45cm+ at just 10 months old! And there were 3 separate entrants who achieved 40cm+ with their ‘Shooting Stars’ Ogons at the same age. Fantastic achievements.

This year we’ve chosen to use Showas, and with the magic of transformation the key aspect with this variety, we called the event ‘Hey Presto, Showa!’.

Take up was high, and our July ’19 LMC showa spawning delivered very well, and provided enough koi at the right standard for us to support 50 entrants and over 120 entries.

At the time of the event, these juvenile Showa’s are remain very immature, and the three colours you’d expect for a showa were all looking quite different from their final tone, and in the case of the black and the white, the positions may change too. It’s the dramatic transformations many of these koi will go through that make this event special, and this was highlighted to us in the short space of just 1 week between the moment we selected them out of our showa growing on tank and photographed them.. to the day of the picking event; many had already started to change , and in some cases they developed to such an extent that they looking quite different to their photos!

Here's one example of a Showa that was selected at the event for an extant who couldn't attend, and we shipped the koi to him the week after the event. First pic is from the baseline photos taken of all the koi 1 week before the event; the next one, is just as it went into the bag for shipping a few days after the event.

Picture of the same Showa, taken 5 days after the event; so just 12 days after the first photo was taken. Fascinating head pattern developing..

With this amount of change in less than 2 weeks , imagine the extent of change that's possible across a whole year… it could be extreme!

Back to the event…

We invited entrants to arrive early so they had a chance to form some ideas of which Showa’s they were interested in, before the picking process started. At 12:30, we kicked off with a group picture of the entrants, then moved swiftly on to the picking.

We picked in rounds, with the picking order set randomly on a names-drawn-from-the-hat basis, and each entrant getting to pick one koi on their go. And then, moving on to the next round where everyone got a pick , and then the next round when they got one more pick. And so on; you get the idea…

Many entrants opted for 3 picks, but some for just 1 or 2 picks. And a couple of people took a larger shoal of Hey Presto Showa’s home! Most entrants attended the picking event and picked their own koi. Some who couldn’t attend had opted for their koi to be picked for them, with shipping the following week.

Here are some of the koi that I thought were among the best picks:

For a bit of fun, before the event we attributed instant prizes to a random selection of 15 of the Showa’s. When those koi were picked at the event, the lucky picker won an instant prize of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Here’s one happy entrant, Jo Jenkins, winning one on her last pick !

With the picking now complete, our Hey Presto Showa’s are in the entrants’ hands… We’ll be checking back with them in October 2020 to see the transformations. At that point, there will be 2 prizes awarded for the koi that has developed the best. Both prizes are a bottle of champagne. One will be awarded by us, and the other will be awarded by the entrants, via a vote.

I was asked at the picking event, how the best development award would be assessed. Would it be a koi that looked really good at the picking event and that had improved and looked even better one year later. Or, would it be one that was not one of the stand out’s at the picking event but had developed into something that looked good 1 year later. The answer is… it will depend on the extent of the development, and either of the koi in these scenarios could be a winner – the answer to which would win, is … the winner will be awarded to the one that has developed the most, and in a good way. That’s the way we will be selecting the winner. The other award will be voted for by the entrants…

‘Hey Presto, Showa!’ is our second autumn grow and show event, and like ‘Shooting Stars’ last year, it has once again proved to be very popular with lots of positive feedback from the entrants. It feels like we have started an annual cycle…

So it will not surprise many of you to learn that I have already started to think about what we might put on for autumn 2020 ! A key aspect that I want to facilitate next year is to be able to put an offering forward that is really special and that can be accessed by hobbyists who do not have growing on tanks, as well as those that do. Watch this space.