Kiesel Park will be gone to the dogs this weekend as the seventh annual Bark in the Park commences Saturday, March 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Auburn Parks and Recreation department is partnering with the Lee County Humane Society to put on the event which will feature educational booths, local pet vendors, door prizes and dog-friendly activities.
With no admission fee, all dog owners and anyone passionate about man’s best friend are invited to participate. Dogs from the humane society will also be up for adoption for hopeful new owners.
“We hope some people will attend without a dog and then fall in love with one at the event to adopt,” said Gabrielle Filgo, community programs coordinator for the parks department.
Among this year’s activities are free microchipping for animal attendees, K9 demos, Doggie Olympics contests and an assortment of pet-related vendors. Pet Palace, Inc., Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Rekalibrated K9 are three of the 32 vendors that will be present at the event.
Other features of the fair this year include a performance from musical duo Chris & Erik, food trucks, free face painting and balloon animal crafting.
“This year we have tried to increase our food offerings as well as add live music and more activities for kids,” Filgo said. “Of course, our focus is on dogs and their owners, but we want this to be an event that everyone can enjoy.”
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An entry in the Doggie Olympics is $3 per dog per contest with all of the proceeds going to the Auburn University chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. A schedule of the Doggie Olympics will be available on the event's Facebook page before the event Saturday.
Bark in the Park kicked off in 2013 when a former park department staff member pitched the idea for an event that called attention to being a responsible dog owner. From there the parks department worked with the LCHS to better evenly distribute the growing workload that came with preparing for the community exhibition.
“I have gone from managing the event completely on my own with a couple part-time staff to co-coordinating the event with someone who has access to a lot of volunteers, so it has definitely gotten easier over time,” Filgo said.
Filgo has been working with Mary Wynne Kling, the shelter’s current outreach and development coordinator since November on this year's event. Since there is no
Filgo and Kling began work on organizing the 2019 Bark in the Park around November, getting in touch with expected vendors and establishing a date.
“We typically have 800 to 1,000 attendees, but it varies from year to year depending on the weather and what else is going on around town,” Filgo said. “We have some vendors who have returned year after year, but we always get new ones as well which I think makes it more exciting for people who do come every year.”
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