We were young men,

naïve men who ambitiously entered the Koi world with our feet in the wet blubber of the show grounds of the first Koi show on the European mainland. The rain fell steadily and soaked us to the bone. We did not care because we had a task: In every garden in the Netherlands a pond filled with the Empress of pond fish: Nishikigoi! The “All European Koishow” would have to take care of that.

We were doing well. The Kasteeltuinen Arcen was a beautiful location. The traders were set up on the tournament pitch. The British Koi Keepers Society (BKKS) supported us with seasoned jurors and above all a lot of knowledge. The East Pennine Section of the same club had sent their competition vats and Dutch, German and English hobbyists (26) and traders (180) from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and England had put their most beautiful Koi in it.
During the construction, it was again very changeable. Between the showers, we found the infrastructure. Tent builder Manders put down the stands. The surface of the show was still small so we thought that water change could be done with separate hoses. We placed the 18 competition vats in a circle in the middle of the lawn. “Anyone could get along well”, we thought. The stands of the ‘Nishikigoi Vereniging Nederland’ and my former magazine ‘De watertuin’ were close by so that ponders and future koi addicts could go with all their questions: in the land of the blind one eye is king.

Arcen NVN showgrounds
The first Grand Champion.

And then it started to rain.
From changeable to plenty. We held our hearts. Would there be visitors? Would it go well with the fish and the traders did not revolt. When Pluvius and Zeus conspire to make it as difficult as possible you do not think: “We have done our best and so it will all work out.” We were already stressed and tired to the bone before the show started.
Leen Wijngaard acted as host and ensured that everyone knew where he was supposed to be. John Gieles was involved in the competition. Rene Krüter kept an eye on the water quality and I made many rounds along the traders to see if everything went well.
Before I went into a stand I always pushed the awning upwards so that the water that had accumulated in it would run out. Of course, I always sent the visitor below it today. My shoes and pipes were soaked. The boss of “Selective Koi Sales” called me. “Hey, why are you chasing my customers?”, It sounded with a broad smile in English. “Let me give you two recommendations: every time you pass by you drink with me a” Pint of Lager “and buy” a pair of Wellington boots “.

Pluvius and Zeus continued to bully.

Slowly the entire competition ground flooded. The grass was almost impassable and the paths muddy like a swamp. An additional problem was the power supply. The catering for the traders was not really well looked after so they put their own coffee makers and kettles. That was too much of a good thing! Every time the power went out, which made us even more stressed. The pumps in the race also fell out. The gardener of the Kasteeltuinen fortunately always managed to save us. He and his director also decided to fly in driving plates so that at least the paths could be walked on.
The weather and the power supply were not the only problems. The race did not go well either. We had never heard of benching and so the BKKS jury members had to do that. That would be cursing in the church now. They brought back the number of varieties from 13 to 10. We also thought we would get away with 1 winner per variety and of course the Grand Champion. The jury members agreed to “tongue in the cheek”.

In the middle: Sponsor Thomas Reeside who died a few years later, Grand Champion winner Wayne Smit, nobody knows of his whereabouts. On the left René Krüter and on the right: Hugo J. Smal.

According to many, the best show!
Or at least it was the most fun and memorable, according to all the people who participated. I saw women in suits and on high heels cluttering the muddy lawn. They had to and would see the fish. Among the volunteers, the umbrellas went from hand to hand and one of them had the idea to bore fish bags at traders so that they could be put on the shoes. They were only wipes for bleeding but it did bring atmosphere. The same atmosphere that still prevails among the volunteers: always cosy and one is never too bad to help the other.
Of course, the show is now much larger. There are more traders, the number of visitors has risen from 5000 to now about 25.000 and main players Koi are now certainly 190 racing barrels. The competition area is now drained and the power supply Up to date. The Holland Koishow, formerly known as “The All European Koishow” is a professionalized show; well organized and praised worldwide. On the mud field in Arcen, in the year 1993, the first stone was laid for this.

We were young men, naïve men who ambitiously entered the Koi world with our feet in the wet blubber. We were naïve because we could never have imagined that we would put down this wonderful show within a few months. Naïve because we could not imagine that “The All European Koi Show” would grow to the Holland Koi show as it is now. The choice of the original name was very ambitious, but let’s face it! In retrospect, it appears that this is actually the only correct name.

Hugo J. Smal

Published in the program brochure of the Holland Koishow 2016

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