Field Trials

Burke County may best be known for one of its oldest traditions, hosting some of the largest field trials for bird dogs in the world. The pastime has earned Waynesboro the title, Bird Dog Capital of the World, a bragging rite that is heralded from the water tower to t-shirts.

Since 1903, enthusiasts have flocked to Burke County with their very best pointers and setters to enter them in competitions hosted throughout the county.

Back in the early 1920's, some of the state's elite, such as Ty Cobb, Bobby Jones or Coca-Cola magnate Robert W. Woodruff, could be found among those at the Anthony Wayne Hotel celebrating the latest derby winner.

Now, a steady stream of owners and trainers head to Burke County each January to compete in the derby, shooting dog and championships run there throughout the month.

The trials hosted there include the largest open shooting dog competition in the world and one of only three derby championships that qualify a dog for the national championship.

A wildly popular amateur trial is now held annually in Burke County and is hosted at Smith Farm. Smith Farm, which has turned out several national champion English setters over the years, is owned and operated by field trial hall of fame member, Harold Ray Whether onlookers are up to watching from the saddle or settling for a ride on the dog-wagon, trial organizers welcome the public to come enjoy the sport with them at the various events.