The Cheshire Cat Club, a member club of the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts, has held its annual cat show at the American Legion in Edgewater, with Sullwold and her husband doing most of the legwork.
"Over the years, we received a lot of help from a lot of different people and groups," Sullwold said. "It really has become a community event, with all the people coming and helping out. I've made a lot of fine relationships and friendships from these shows. People came and they came repeatedly, because they had such a good time at the shows. They explored things about cats and shared their love of cats."
But like all good things, this local cat show is coming to an end. Sullwold and her husband, who have been breeders of Mannahatta Maine Coons for many years, are actually having their dream home built in - you guessed it - Maine.
"We're taking them home," Sullwold said, with a laugh. "We have always traveled to Maine for vacations and we love it up there. I suppose that it's just coincidence that the home is in Maine and we breed Maine Coons."
Cats come home
All totaled, the Sullwolds currently 10 Maine Coons that are either still show cats or were during their heyday.
So this year's show, which will be held at the same site in Edgewater on River Road on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4, will be the last one.
"There is a sense of sadness, because we really did enjoy doing the show and I know the community enjoyed it as well," Sullwold said. "If I ever end up doing another show in Maine, I hope it becomes as popular as this one was. I truly appreciate everything that was done by people to make this show so successful from the start."
Dress like a movie cat
When Sullwold organized her first show in 2001, she had no idea what the turnout would be like. Last year, there were about 500 cat enthusiasts who made their way through the show on each day. Competitors from as far away as Florida, North Carolina and Arizona made their way to Edgewater to compete in the show, both in the pedigree and household cat competitions.
"It really has turned out to be quite successful and the biggest show that the AACE sponsors," Sullwold said.
This year, the theme of the show will be Legends of the Silver Screen, with many different events and contests taking place during the two-day cat fancy.
On Saturday, people will be asked to dress their cats like their favorite film star or movie character. There will be judges to decide which cat owner had provided the best costumes.
Josette Bordiga of Weehawken has already decided what she will dress her two cats as - Darth Vader and Princess Leia of Star Wars fame. Stormy, a 20-pound white cat "who is the size of Arizona," according to Bordiga, will be Darth Vader, while Snowy, a little cat, will be the Princess.
"I think it will be a lot of fun," Bordiga said. "It's going to be worth it to see those black buns on Snowy's head."
There will be a fashion show, with cats wearing the designs of Meow Wear designer Carla Reiss. There will be a movie trivia game and a cage decoration contest with the decorations using movie themes. There will also be a cat photo contest, with prizes for the best feline photos.
Cats for adoption
There will be appearances from author Clea Simon, who penned the award-winning novel Feline Mystique, as well as three other cat mysteries, on Sunday from 1-2 p.m. Simon will have her books on sale and will sign them, as well as giving a presentation.
Once again, award-winning animal photographer Keith Ibsen will be available Saturday for sittings. Mindful Tails, a New York-based group of certified practitioners, will give a presentation on the T-Touch method, a gentle and effective way of influencing cat behavior.
The Liberty Humane Society and TLC Rescue, under the leadership of Joan Doljan of Weehawken and Lisa Corcoran of Jersey City, will also offer kittens and cats that will be available for adoption. Last year, 11 cats and kittens found new homes during the cat show.
There will also be an assortment of vendors offering a variety of cat toys, care products as well as other foods, gifts and what have you.
Best in Show
And the highlight of the weekend will be the crowning of the Best Household Cat and Best in Show.
Last year, a Persian cat owned by Sylvia Bruckmann won the Best in Show honor.
The show is sponsored by Royal Canin, Mother Hubbard-Wellness Feline Foods, the World's Best Litter, Animal General Veterinary Hospital and River Pet Resort.
This year, the St. Lawrence Parish Youth Group of Weehawken has volunteered their services to help out the cat show as a form of community service.
Bordiga, who has attended the show since its inception, will enter her cats for the first time for show.
"It's going to be a novel experience for me," Bordiga said. "I never tried it before. I'm not going to enter them to win, just for the experience. It's a wonderful show for everyone. It's good to have these smaller shows, so people can talk to the cat experts and handlers. It's a wonderful service."
She is sorry it will end.
"It's devastating to me," Bordiga said. "I started to go to the shows, then I slowly got involved and now I help Carla with the cats and all. My paws are full, so to speak. I'm really going to miss it. I had a good time every year."
"We're going to miss everyone," Sullwold said. "I guess they'll miss us, too."
The Cheshire Cat Club will hold its annual Cats in Wonderland VI show at the American Legion Post 116, located at 1165 River Road in Edgewater on Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the show are priced at $7 for adults and $5 for children and senior citizens. For more information, contact show manager Carla Maria Sullwold at (201) 868-1238 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org