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Boykin Spaniel Nationals underway
Boykin Spaniels
A spirited Boykin Spaniel representative of South Carolinas state dog unleashes a giant leap with a retrieving decoy. More than 100 Boykin Spaniels and their human entourages are expected for the National Field Trials, underway this weekend in Kershaw County. - photo by Mark Atwater

If your idea of a great time involves wagging tails and enthusiastic furry friends racing around a stubble field, then this weekend is your weekend. It’s time once again to celebrate the South Carolina State Dog with the annual Boykin Spaniel Society National Field Trials, which started Thursday night and will run through Sunday.

The entire week already belongs to the little brown dog as Camden City Council recently declared April 3-10 as Boykin Spaniel Week in the city of Camden.

Of course, as always, there will be much more, including health clinics, an oyster roast, banquet, silent auction and a tailgate competition. 

The second annual tailgate competition is proving to be a popular event. Competitors prepare food for the event and spectators buy tickets to sample the different offerings. At the end of the competition, tickets are counted to determine a people’s choice award. Competitors are also judged on their overall presentation and decoration. 

This year’s theme is “Brown.” 

The Boykin Spaniel was originally bred in the 1900s, right here in Kershaw County. The dog became popular with hunters here because of its small, compact build, good disposition and high intelligence. Boykin Spaniels were used for duck and turkey hunting as well as field retrieving.

The weekend kicked off with a reception at the Camden Archives and Museum, which now permanently hosts an exhibit on the Boykin Spaniel. Field trial activities start today at Rhame Arena.

“We are seeing a lot of newcomers to the event this year,” Boykin Spaniel Society President Dawn Crites said. “We’ll also have more vendors, which is great. The weekend is meant to be fun, and it has something for the entire family. It’s a lot of fun and it just keeps growing.”

More than 100 handlers and their dogs, from all over the country, will gather at Rhame Arena for testing in Novice, Puppy, Intermediate and Open classes, Crites said.  

Additional skill events will include the Duck Dog Shootout, Hot Dog Retrieve, Speed Dog, Children’s Handling Stake and Natural Ability stake. These take place in various locations around Camden, Rembert and Boykin, Crites said. The events are placement trials rather than pass/fail competitions.

The trials started in 2003; participation, attendance, and interest has grown steadily since then, Crites said, with all the hotels in Camden booked solid.

Nearly 260 people are expected for the oyster roast and 278 have made reservations at the banquet, she said. 

The field trial events are all free and open to the public.

For more information, call 425-1032 or visit