In the UK there are three separate clubs, all affiliated with the National Hamster Council (NHC). I'm a member of the Northern Hamster Club, and there are also the Midland and Southern versions. Each club organises roughly ten shows over the course of the year, and anyone can turn up, member or not!
There are multiple different classes that you can enter your hamster in, but the best one for beginners I believe to be pet class. It's easy -- you can turn up on the day, with your hamster in a suitable carrier, and enter. All the other classes involve sending your entries in advance, special show pens, the chaos that is benching your hamsters, and judging to a specific standard. In pet class your hamster is judged on how tame your hamster is and its condition.
|Annie won first place in pet class at her first ever show!|
If you're only just entering the world of hamster showing, you probably own a pet shop hamster. Most of the hamsters you see in the main classes are breeder hamsters -- that is, bred by members of the NHC to conform well to show standards (among other things). Since hamsters originating from pet shops are highly unlikely to be bred to any standard, they are unlikely to get good marks in the main classes.
That doesn't mean you can't enter a non-breeder hamster into the main shows though! I am planning to enter Annie into the main classes myself in the not-too-distant future, and she is a pet shop hamster I acquired from a certain big green pet store's adoption centre.
One thing I will say: Don't turn up to the shows when doors open if you are not entering any hamsters into the main classes. Pen labels for the show pens have to be collected, and then the hamsters all have to be benched, by a certain time. This is so judging can start promptly. The last thing everyone wants is to get distracted talking! If you want to arrive early, wait until judging for the main classes has started (usually around 10:30 or 11:00, but the show schedule on the NHC website will clarify). Then everyone else will be sitting down to get a relaxing cup of hot drink of their choice, and much more inclined to talk.
(For more information on hamster shows in the UK, the best place to visit is the NHC website. The standards for the main classes can be found in the NHC handbook, which can be downloaded here.)