As far as the crate, depends on how far away you need to park, and whether you want to hold onto the dog while you are watching the other competitors. You do need to put the dog somewhere while you walk the course. You will need to check in with the table stewards and get your armband when you get to the show also, which is easier without the dog usually.
I like to get to the show about 1/2 to 1 hour early to scope things out and get settled...take the dogs out for a peep or poop if needed, and warm them up. Depends on your dog though and whether he stresses in a new environment etc.
Yes, I think you definitely need the crate. I remember before we actually started going I didn't think I would need it. But it REALLY helps having somewhere to put them where they are not being bombarded by stimuli. It's exhausting to them, I think.
I try for an hour early too, as that seems just about right. BUT, ours are always running late so sometimes that turns into four hours, which translates to a tired, indifferent attitude from the dog(s).
I too take a crate to shows. The show you are thinking about has quite a few shade trees so you can set the crate there. one thing to know is that they run the advanced classes first(usually) and so any delays add up by the time you get to the Novice classes. However this show usually has a pretty small turn out and should move pretty quickly. I usually shoot for an hour early to, but if this is your first show you might want to get there even earlier and watch the advanced classes. its totally amazing.
I think a crate is a must simply because it provides a quiet space for the dog to relax. It also allows you to make the 20 trips to the restroom without asking someone to hold on to your dog for you.
I like to show up 30 min to 1hr before I show. Murray is at his best when he first gets to a site. As the day wears on, he lacks the prance in his step and just wants to get the whole thing over with. It is really dependent on the individual dog though. Some need to be there 4 hrs ahead just to calm down.
I like to arrive early and scope things out, set myself up with all our stuff (I just like to feel like I have EVERYTHING one might need in case of an emergency) and get Emilu acclimated and used to all the dogs being around and stuff, so I definelty take a crate. It also does allow her to chill out, and me to go potty and register and stuff (and walk the rally course) without her. I went to one show without my crate because I took my sister and we weren't staying all that long. I didn't like not having a crate. But I have seen a lot of people , especially those with larger dogs who don't take crates and their dogs just sit quietly beside them , waiting to show. These are not labs
The show I was at today, the crateing was in a seperate room from where the Rally was being held. Fortunately, I was able to park right outside the door, so getting the dogs was not a problem. This was the only show however where I have seen that done!
I try to be at shows an hour ahead. I also always bring a crate. Depending on the show, and one you know the venue, you can decide if you want to set it up or not. I've been to a few in my area where I can park close enough and there are trees to tie the dog to when you need to do a walk though. But it's just easier bringing a crate.