by Bertha Frank Garrison
The Kem Memorial Sweepstakes -- these were “magical” words in the late
50's through the 90's. Competing in this very special sweeps would send
your heart beating a bit faster, and thinking you really had something good
enough to win . . . why that would just send chills through collie breeders, very
experienced or novice. Winning THE KEM . . . A dream come true.
Gus Sigritz, of Cherrivale fame, was the main force behind this renowned
sweeps. This was to honor some very special “collie people,” the Kems --
Fred, his wife Madge and also son Oren. They bred collies that were
hard working. Livestock owners across the country knew of the working
ability of these dogs and did whatever they could to get one of the
great Lodestone collies into their area to work their stock (and help
with the neighbors stock too). The Kems also bred collies of great
beauty. The Lodestone dogs were the foundation for many of the collie
kennels that were to emerge in the 40's and 50's -- Parader, Cherrivale,
Hertzville, Noranda and Cainbrooke. The Kems were always willing to
help, talking breeding ideas and writing many, many articles on the
collie for the dog magazines of the day. All this and the Kems did not
even show their dogs. Their understanding of form and function was complete
enough that breeders came to them for knowledge and quality.
So, to honor the Kems, this sweeps needed to be very special.
fee -- it was set up at $10, which at the time was TWICE the fee of an
adult entered in the regular class. This was to encourage breeders to
put their very best pups in this sweeps, ones they hoped would make an impact
on the breed.
The judge -- it couldn't be just some newcomer.. it needed to be one
knowledgeable in the breed . . . so it would be a licensed judge, AKC would
have already screened the people so an AKC licensed judge would do the
The pups would be owner-handled or shown by a friend, not a
professional. And, because breeders were showing their own pups, their best, the process was that the
winners class would have all four placements come in for the finals. This would give the
breeders a second chance on that day to showcase their best pups.
The thinking was that the experienced judge should be able to handle, and actually welcome
the challenge of having 16 pups in the ring at one time.
This special sweeps needed to be hosted by more than one club. One club
probably would not be able to sustain the uniqueness of it, and there
would be a freshness to the sweeps each year if different clubs would
take turns hosting the Kem. And, because the different clubs had
different show dates, make the date of eligibility when they would be 1
year old -- a uniform date -- sort of like race horses. January 15 of a given
year would be the date. If the pup was born after that date it would be
considered a pup.
And THE Trophy -- this also would be unique, fitting a BEST IN SHOW win
by an adult . . . a punch bowl, silver (to start with it was sterling) with
plate, ladle and cups; A gorgeous piece to bring home in case your
spouse really thought this dog show thing was really a bother. In other words, something
that could be shown off to non-dog people. And not only would the
trophy be lavish, but only a select group of people would be allowed to
donate to the trophy fund (never wanted the talk to be that someone won
it because they donated lots of money to the trophy fund). So, each
sponsoring club and a few people (not more than six) paid for
Certain aspects of the Kem sweeps have changed through the years, mostly
from AKC rule changes and from the changes in the different clubs, but
this is the LONGEST running sweepstakes in ANY BREED. Oldtimers in
other breeds are aware of this sweeps and its longevity. Hopefully this
sweeps can continue and flourish. At a time when we want our
dogs to not only be beautiful, but versatile as well, honoring the breeders that
were very instrumental in making our smart dogs beautiful, seems very
The Indiana Collie Club will host the 49th and 50th Kem Memorial Sweepstakes
in Edinburgh, Indiana on May 12 and 13, 2007. Entries close April 25, 2007 for this special event.
> Past Winners
Article by Sally Futh