Heading back to the farm after attending the first koi show in 2022. CFKGS in Orlando is always well attended with lots of vendors and everyone ready to catch up. This was a no responsibility, no stress weekend – just enjoyment for me. The koi show is held at a hotel site not too far from Universal Studios. A super large tent protects 6’ and 8’ diameter tanks where exhibitor koi are shown over the weekend. There is a lot of work going on before the judging. The air system is tweaked, water quality is constantly monitored and as koi arrive, they have to be ”benched.” Benching is a registration process that includes a photo, variety identification and measuring the koi size.
A small portion of the show tent is given to vendors who are selling koi, pond equipment, koi food, goldfish, tchotchkes, plants, etc. The courtyard area of the hotel is also filled with vendors and it becomes a festive hangout. The quality of koi brought in by the vendors is very high and there were a number of koi purchased on Friday that became major winners on Saturday.
All day Friday, koi continue to arrive via custom transport trailers, bagged in a box or through the vendor. Some koi fly with their owners to Orlando. Unfortunately if a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, some koi will not make the show.
CFKGS is a large fancy goldfish show and I always find it interesting to walk through their show tanks. These goldfish are quite large and judging them requires some calibrated eyeballs. One of the key criteria is symmetry of fins. Goldfish are very sensitive so just getting them to the show can be a feat.
On Saturday the judging starts and the teams follow a systemic method of judging every koi. The results are a ranking hierarchy with one koi declared the Grand Champion. The koi are judged on conformation, quality, pattern and overall impression. Thunderstorms, high winds and poor lighting does not stop the judging. Cellphone flashlights are brought out to continue the process. Check out the attire of one judge – official blazer, tie, slacks and cool koi tennis shoes.
I avoided the bad weather by listening to a slate of speakers indoors. CFKGS had multiple speakers on a variety of topics related to koi keeping. Topics covered included koi husbandry, plants, personal koikeeping journeys, hydroponics, the business side of koi dealers, ponds, etc. Always something new to learn and I have some ideas of new things I want to try on the farm. One of the most exciting bit of trivia is that I might be able to purchase some japanese strawberry plants next year!
Once judging is completed everyone is getting a final look at the koi. There will be a ”tank walk” with the judges on Sunday morning where judges will explain some of their evaluations of the major winners with attendees. Saturday night is the show banquet where awards are presented. The awards for this show are some artsy pieces. Results are printed up and quickly shared over the internet. Our hobby is small community and everyone is genuinely happy for the winners.
It was a fun filled 48 hours and I’m looking forward to the next show. You can’t beat the koi community for fun events and wonderful friendships!