It was in the early 1970s that a group of interested Collie Fanciers got together to form a new club which would later be known as the Tri-County Collie Breeders Association. At that point in time the Collie Club of Long Island was doing great as was the Collie Club of Northern New Jersey, but several fanciers between the two wanted something a little closer to home. There had been a Collie Club of Greater New York, that met in Brooklyn and had rallied support for a few years, but eventually, it disappeared.
If memory serves me correctly, the first gathering to form a club was held at Paul and Val Nasettas (Paradice) and I believe the next one at Kinmont the home of Ben and Isabelle Butler. Ken and Linda Goldfarb of Elegy Collies were also founding members and at the meeting, as were Doris and Bob Werdermann (Dorlaine), Judie Evans (Clarion), Sue and Mike Mitchell (Knightswood) and Sandy Draper (CynSan).
There was such a warm feeling at that meeting that cemented a wonderful friendship between all of us. As we began to discuss our thoughts for a club, its bylaws, the possibility of shows, I still remember Isabelle Butler bringing up a point that we all agreed upon . . . that we would do nothing really "official" for two years, and during those two years we would just get to know each other better and enjoy each other’s company. And that we did.
Those first few years were so exciting. We often met at Bill Reibers restaurant in Elmsford, New York on Route 119. I believe it changed hands and is known as Antums today. During the first year we had a meeting at the end of October on Halloween night and members were asked to come in costume. I will never forget Isabelle Butler—always the stately well turned out woman, dressed in husband Ben's Army Coat and helmet . . . and finished off with his boots! She was truly a gem!
Ken and Linda Goldfarb had a great penthouse on Park Avenue, right across from the J.P. Morgan library and we occasionally met there, especially for holiday parties. I still remember one year when Trudy Mangels and Sandy Draper (who later became a member) joined in for the fun. But the Goldfarbs also had a great home up in Saratoga, New York, where they often spent summers, and eventually retired to. In 1973 people might remember the country suffered through a beef shortage, where it was really difficult to find affordable beef to eat. That summer, Tri-County offered up a "fun match" to be held at the Goldfarb's Saratoga location. Through the generosity of the Goldfarbs, everyone who came to support the match would enjoy a free after-the-match dinner, complete with T-bone steak and a bottle of champagne. We had a wonderful turnout, and the festivities went well into the night as people from all over gathered and shared stories of Collies under the moonlight. Many spent the night (some slept in cars!) and the next day we went to the races in Saratoga.
The next year, trying to keep things interesting, Trudy Mangels offered to have the match at the beautiful "Brandwyne" kennel in Standfordville, New York. Those coming to the match got to enjoy the ride as they turned up onto the old Bengall Road and travel up the long driveway as the Brandwyne collies (inside the fence of course) followed alongside your car, greeting you in welcome. At the conclusion of the match, Trudy brought out a few of her gorgeous Arabian stallions for all to see and enjoy, and that was followed up with free chili and champagne for all who came to the match. So many fond memories of these early days, and the best way to describe those early years could be summed up in one word . . . "camaraderie"—for that was what this club was based on.
A few years later, I moved to Pennsylvania, but the club continued to prosper and grow. It wasn't long before very successful specialties were held, and club membership grew. In 1985, after the passing of his parents, Ben Butler, Jr., wanted to do something special that he thought his parents would have wanted. Together with Sandy Draper, they spearheaded the SALUTE TO STEVE FIELD—one of the greatest tributes to a dog breeder ever. Enlisting the help of several Tri-County members at the time, a show was designed to honor Steve and all of the great PARADER Collies. Alice Wharton flew in to judge bitches, while George Horn judged the males, and the master himself, Steve Field, took center stage to award Best of Breed. Following the show, rings were taken down, mats removed and the show center was converted into a ballroom type atmosphere with tables and chairs (each table with a bottle of bubbly!) and a dais for several individuals to share stories of the great man as a tribute.
So many wonderful memories . . . it’s hard to believe that so much time has passed. Some things change and yet some things stay the same. Locations for match shows and specialties for this club have always had special appeal to those coming to club events. For several years, Tri-County held its specialties in Bedford, New York at the beautiful grounds of Sunnyfield Farm. The horse farm, owned by Collie fancier and member Joanne Nielson, had a special appeal to all who attended and got to watch the new foals rally in play. It is often through the generosity of an individual, like Joanne, that the legacy of the past continues!
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