Select Page

The Secret Life of a Show Secretary

show secretary
30 July, 2016

AKA How to Write the Perfect Show Entry Email

Today I was show secretary at the Midland Hamster Club’s Cardiff show. It’s the third show I’ve volunteered to be show sec this year (and I have three more still to do before 2017 arrives). As you can tell, I enjoy being show secretary!

The show sec takes entries, writes the pen labels and prize cards, answers queries about the show and gets the paperwork sorted for the judges to complete. Northern Hamster Club shows have a computer programme to print off the entries, whereas Midland and Southern Hamster Clubs use blank cards and paper sheets that are completed by hand (no risk of my Macbook not playing with the software at least!)

A few weeks before the show I checked I had all the paperwork and cards I needed, and contacted the Show Manager if there was anything missing (the Show Manager gives out the show packs to the show secs in advance). The main show entry deadline was Wednesday – and most of the entries as usual arrived a few hours before the deadline. All emails needed acknowledging promptly and checking in case there was anything that needed clarification. This was about half an hour’s work, in little bits of time as and when the emails arrived (there were no postal entries this time).

On Friday I had the day off work so sat down with coffee and the show sec folder. I allocated all the entrants into the appropriate classes and gave all the hamsters a pen number. I added up how many hamsters were in each class, and filled in the judging slips. I thankfully had some help in writing out the pen labels, so I got on with completing the prize cards (leaving blank the section for who had won, of course!) I also let the Show Manager know how many hire pens were needed so they could be brought to the show, and how many entries there were. This took two and a half hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the evening.

So, for a relatively small show (81 Syrian hamsters and 72 dwarf hamsters) I had already spent approximately 5 hours in preparing the paperwork before the show day arrived. The on-the-day show secretary work is periods of nothing happening (and tea) interspersed with frantic card writing, pet class entering and reclassification! Any exhibitors who’d like to learn more about being show sec are welcome to ask me (as long as I’m not show sec and trying to write out the cards for pet class and duplicates!)

How to Write the Perfect Show Entry Email

Exhibitors sending a clear entry email makes the show sec’s preparations so much easier. Northern Hamster Club entries are done using an online form so are nice and straightforward. The Midland and Southern Hamster Club entries have no proforma which can be confusing for a new exhibitor.

My suggestions for completing a show-sec-friendly entry email:

  • Add in either the title or body of the email which show you are entering (sometimes show secs have volunteered to show sec two shows close together and get early entries for one at the same time as entries for the other. It can get very confusing!)
  • Be clear if you are entering in your own name or in an NHC-registered prefix
  • Have the entry for each hamster on a separate line (you can put ‘2x’ if you have 2 hamsters in exactly the same classes)
  • Don’t include hamster names or the class names in full (the class numbers are perfectly acceptable alone)
  • Be clear whether you need to hire show pens, and which sort you need (dwarf/Syrian)
  • Use a reasonable size font (I print the emails off and some can be teeny tiny!)
  • For a gold star, put the entries in order of the main classes (this is really helpful to the show sec and is much appreciated!)
  • For another gold star, you can put the number of hamsters you’re entering in total. It’s a nice quick check for me as show sec to make sure I’ve got all your labels written (and for you in entering to know you’ve entered everyone you meant to)
  • If you’re not sure, ask!


An example of an email I’d love to receive:

“Hi show sec,

These are the entries for Hamster’s Hamstery for the Nomansland show. There are 8 hamsters in total.

1 18 21

3 21

4 18 21

11 21

D3 D19

D8 D16 D17 D19

D9 D19

D11 D17 D19

I would like to hire 2 Syrian and 1 dwarf show pens.




I managed to resist giving out gold stars for amazingly perfect entry emails today, but only just! I do love a nice entry email as it makes my life as show sec so much easier.


Enter your email, and click "Download Free Care Booklet"

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Enter your email to keep in touch

You will be directed to the booklet download page after pressing subscribe

You have Successfully Subscribed!