AKC is very expensive, most GSD people need to hire a professional handler to show their dogs and I've found that often the exhibitors aren't the most friendly people walking around.
I know everyone loves to bash AKC conformation, but that isn't strictly true.
I don't know how much it costs to enter a UKC show, but entry fees lately have been about $26-$28 to show in AKC. I DO have a handler, which I pay a reasonable amount to show my dogs. I can't run around a ring to save my life - my knees are completely shot - so a handler is a necessity for me. We have plenty of people in our GSD club that show their own dogs, including Juniors.
At the shows, if an exhibitor needs to have someone go back in with their dog, there is always someone ringside willing to jump in and help. I've had TOP handlers (Clint and Brian Livingston, for example) say to me "you need someone to take her back in?", and then grab my dog's leash and head back into the ring. Yes, for free. An 11 year old Junior took Carly back in for Best of Breed one time, because my handler had to take her special in. The Junior won with Carly.
I don't know, maybe it's just the part of the country that I live in. All my friends love to talk about our dogs with anyone that comes up to us at a show. I explain what's going on to people watching ringside that have never been to a show and are completely clueless about what they are seeing.
And yes, I have been around some unfriendly people at dog shows. I've been around unfriendly people at herding events, and at obedience trials. Some people are just unhappy wherever they go.
I say, if you want to show your dog, then show your dog. Do it for fun. Pick a venue that's suited for your particular dog, so you don't get too frustrated. I had no idea I had a competitive streak, until I got a show dog!