WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The old adage goes that “every dog has its day,” but this weekend the canines at the Eastern States Exposition grounds get two.

The Merrimack Valley Kennel Club Dog Shows return to the West Springfield fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 8-9, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

It’s a fast-paced event. Judging begins each day at 8 a.m. with eight different rings set up inside the Young Building, according to George Marquis, Merrimack Valley show coordinator.

The pandemic has impacted the dog shows, as it has all other aspects of life, said Marquis, adding entries from Germany and Australia were forced to pull out over travel logistics.

But there will be no shortage or variety of dogs taking part in the two weekend shows, he said.

The Merrimack Valley Kennel Club expects 1,058 dogs to compete on Saturday and 1,075 to take part on Sunday.

The majority of the entrants come from the New England states, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania, Marquis said.

With new breeds scrutinized and approved by the American Kennel Club, spectators this weekend might see Finnish Lapphunds or West African Azawakhs take part.

The 2020 edition in West Springfield featured a mix of popular and lesser known breeds, ranging from Golden Retrievers to the Havanese — the national dog of Cuba.

The Merrimack Valley Kennel Club Dog Shows are the first canine competitions of 2021 to be held on The Big E grounds, but certainly will not be the last.

The Great Barrington and the Rockland County kennel clubs have separate shows already planned here next month and more dog competitions are slated throughout the year.

Additional details on this weekend’s all-breed shows and future competitions in West Springfield can be found online at easternstatesexposition.com.

Based in Epsom, New Hampshire, the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club was founded in 1963 and is a member club of the American Kennel Club.

Merrimack Valley members are active in all aspects of canine purpose and competition. They participate in activities such as obedience and rally, agility, conformation, breeding dogs, Canine Good Citizen (CGC), hunting trials, tracking events, herding, lure coursing, therapy dogs and raising funds for non-profit association affiliated with dogs.

For more information on the Merrimack Valley Kennel Club, visit its website at mvkc.org.

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