Every dog has its day, especially at Barktoberfest, the annual canine convention presented by the Pensacola Humane Society. Now in its 10th year — or 70 in dog years — the 2022 edition returns to Community Maritime Park on Oct. 30.
“Barktoberfest was originally created as a fundraiser and a fun event for local dogs and their humans,” said Jessica Fischer, head of communications and marketing at the Pensacola Humane Society.
“Barktoberfest helps to enforce our mission about the importance of spaying and neutering, preventing animal cruelty, and providing pet education programs aimed at addressing animal welfare issues within our community,” Fischer continued.
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At least 15,000 attendees with almost as many dogs, are expected for the one-day fest that raises money and pet ownership awareness.
Attendees will have plenty of opportunities to rescue a pooch on site as well. Last year, 20 dogs found their new owners.
“Pensacola Humane Society, along with various other organizations and rescues, will have adoptable dogs available at Barktoberfest,” said Fischer.
Founded in 1943, the Pensacola Humane Society is 10 years older than its national counterpart. The two are not fiscally connected. The local PHS shelter has been a no-kill facility since 1985 and is supported by a dozen employees and over 200 volunteers.
Barktoberfest, the largest event of its kind in the area, is just a part of the PHS fundraising calendar, a list that includes “Paws on Palafox,” a downtown 3K procession; “Fur Ball,” a black-tie gala; and various bathe-ins and off-site adoption events.
Last month, the shelter christened ‘Bud’s Backyard,” a dog park fashioned from a tattered play yard at the PHS property in memory of local dog lover, Robert “Bud” Kelsch.
Along its decade-long run, Barktoberfest outgrew its original digs at Seville Square and Plaza Ferdinand, as more space was required for the growth of participating vendors and demonstrations. As it is close to Halloween, the day features a costume contest that has become a tempting photo opportunity, as well as other friendly competitions like the small dog races and tail-wagging contest.
Meagan Zornes took her Yorkie several times to Barktoberfest and hopes to go this year with her 13-year old rescue, a Bernese Mountain-Australian Shepherd mix.
“It’s nice to give your dog an exciting day,” said Zornes. “I love seeing all the dogs, the costume contest, and seeing new products for my dog. It’s also nice to meet other people who love dogs as much as you do.”
Community Maritime Park also allows more room for pet demonstrations, mainly from dog training organizations such as ReviveK9, Positive Splash Dog Training, PPD Dog Training, and Lorenzo’s Dog Training team.
An anticipated treat is the “Country Canine Square Dancers” performed by Five Flags Dog Training Club, which is a local hit wherever they perform.
“Five Flags DTC is a wonderful group that has been around for 50 years, growing from a simple obedience club to an organization that not only offers dog training to the public but offers training and competitions in almost every canine sport around,” said Connie Fleming, events coordinator of Five Flags Dog Training Club.
In addition, the club offers therapy dogs for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and operates the PNS PUP Patrol, or “Pets Unstressing People” at Pensacola International Airport.
“We hold several agility and obedience trials a year at the Escambia County Equestrian Center and draw exhibitors from all over the Southeast and beyond,” said Fleming. “We are a very busy group. Not only do we love doing things with our dogs, we love sharing that enthusiasm with other dog owners and dog lovers everywhere.”
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct. 30
Community Maritime Park
Humane Society- 5 N. ‘Q’ St.