The Dutch Koi Show 2013
Myself, Pat and Bob Stockwell piled into the old jalopy at an ungodly hour on Friday 16th August and headed for the Channel Tunnel. We stopped off for a bite near Calais then continued through France and Belgium and into Holland at a leisurely pace. All went well until the Antwerp Ring Road at which point it became apparent that there had been drastic changes to the road plan. Unfortunately nobody had informed our Satnav and we detoured nearly to Einhoven Airport before getting back on track. Ah well – the joys of modern technology are frequently wasted on me anyway! (Must be an age thing).
We eventually made it to our Hotel (The Van Der Valk – yes that’s the one!) in Venlo in time to get unpacked, showered and chill out before a very nice dinner in the hotel restaurant. After that the bar seemed inviting and comfortable so we retired there for the remainder of a convivial evening.
The Van Der Valk is a fairly luxurious venue only about five or six miles from the show ground so it attracts quite a number of Koi nuts like ourselves, including a few judges such as Bernie Woolands and Christine Woolgar to name but two. In fact it was on the day of our departure that we found ourselves adjacent to almost the entire judging team at the next table for breakfast, but I digress – back to the report on the show.
After a hearty breakfast (full English variety – although smoked salmon and sparkling wine were on offer at no extra charge) we decided to make the short drive to the Arcen Show ground. This was not before Bob had decided that he might just have enough room left for another half dozen croissants and Danish pastries! Well waste not want not!
The Arcen Show is held in the grounds of a large moated castle, complete with large koi in the moat. True they are not the prettiest fish going but it’s something to look at as you walk in. The car park for the show is vast and despite the fact that we had arrived only shortly after the event opened, there were already hundreds of cars there. We anticipated that this might indicate a lengthy wait in a queue but were pleasantly surprised when we stepped up to the pay booth behind only a handful of other attendees. We were even more greatly surprised when the Dutch family behind us tapped me on the shoulder and handed me three vouchers, providing a four Euro reduction for each of us to enter the show. I really do mean it when I say that the Dutch are some of the most friendly people you are likely to meet anywhere in the world.
The organisers bill this show as the biggest koi show in the world and quite frankly this is no empty promise. It is attended by thousands, features literally hundreds of dealers, selling dry goods, fish food and of course fish and the show itself boasted 79 vats. It also features an exhibition of aquarium fish and an ornamental shrimp show. There really is something for everyone, from the most traditional of filtration equipment to the latest of cutting edge technology. Drum filters were there in abundance and many of the dealers had working displays of their filtration and aeration kit. When it comes to water management the Dutch are no novices and know their stuff. Some of the innovations on show are quite mind blowing. There are a large number of ancillary stands selling and promoting koi related products and articles with a Japanese theme. Bonsai are on sale in abundance and there are price ranges to suit all pockets.
The catering arrangements are quite varied and there is adequate seating despite the numbers. No balancing the overfilled burger in one hand whilst spilling your coffee with the other! I did not notice anybody failing to find a seat and the food on offer was not vastly over priced. Bearing in mind the close proximity to the German border (only a few kilometres up the road) I smiled when I noticed a giant hot-dog stand titled ‘The Worst Scenario’. In fact he was doing a good trade.
No worries about the language – the Dutch are used to speaking English and seem to like to do so (perhaps it’s because Dutch is so difficult) As can be seen getting to grips with the language presents no difficulty!
I felt the standard of the koi on show was good. I do think that where Go Sanke are concerned we have some very fine examples in the UK and I think we have greater strength in depth (if you’ll pardon the pun) in that area but for non Go Sanke fish the show really did have some very handsome examples. Well with 79 vats on show there were bound to be some pretty decent fish to be seen as the photos I’ve included illustrate.
Entry to the show entitles you to go round the very extensive gardens surrounding the castle and these are really not to be missed. They include a Japanese Garden, a huge area under glass, which also houses a large koi pond and numerous other themed garden areas. Bob’s daughter and son-in-law live in Germany and together with their two children they joined us at the show and spent some of the time going round these gardens.
All in all this event is not just a koi show but is a truly great day out. So, if any of you at Crouch Valley want to be a part of all this put your name in the book at the next meeting and perhaps we can organise a club trip, or alternatively get sufficient numbers to latch on to Terry Wells’ party from the South East and have a joint event.
Happy Koi Keeping