When you have a region that supports a failing NHL hockey team year after year, you know there’s a competitive spirit solidly entrenched in the population.
And it’s popping up in the unlikeliest place – the first annual Dog City Festival coming to the Whitemud Equestrian Centre on Saturday, July 13.
Not only are our wet-nosed friends treated to tons of activity zones, off-leash areas, flyball, pet massages, free dog eats, splash zones and fun contests, but both the furry four-foots and their two-legged humans get to launch the event with a free Doga class listed as an official Guinness World Record attempt for the biggest class ever.
The official world record for the biggest dog yoga class was set in Hong Kong in 2016 with 270 pairs of dogs and their owners practicing moves for just over a half-hour, said festival producer Rona Fraser.
“We already have 340 signed up. If everybody shows up, we’ll crush the Guinness World Record,” said Fraser.
The class is free, and more participants are welcome to join. Everyone must register online at dogcityfestival.com to have his or her name included when the record is broken.
Sarah Keller, a professional K-9 fitness trainer/owner of Sit Stay Squat will lead the class on the Champion Petfood Main Stage.
“According to Sarah, it’s a lot of laughs. If you have a small dog, you can lift them and do funny poses. And if you have a big dog, you can do the downward dog. It’s a lot of laughs and some exercise. It’s all treat motivated,” chuckles Fraser, whose three-year old Australian shepherd Harley was part of the inspiration for this project.
“My husband did music festivals. We have an Australian shepherd and we always thought it would be wonderful to take her along at festivals.”
Coincidentally Fraser recently lost her mother to cancer. The Fraser family knew of Wellspring Edmonton, a newly constructed facility that caters to cancer patients offering free services such as nutrition training, meditation and exercise programs.
The Frasers offered to fundraise for Wellspring and man’s best friend festival was born.
“All our proceeds will go to support music, art and nutrition programs.”
Doors open at noon with a series of activities planned throughout the day.
During the interactive hound games, dogs run a relay race and put on articles of clothing at specific stops.
“Whoever finishes the (race) wearing all four articles of clothing is the winner. It’s comical and hugely popular.”
Then there’s the best-dressed costume, where pups of all ages will likely show up wearing repurposed Halloween costumes and princess costumes. And for humans who enjoy dressing like their pooch, there’s also a dog/owner look-alike contest.
For top tier athletic prowess, it’s tough to beat the dozen or so dogs from The Dog House performing stunt tricks during the disc dog showdown.
An agility area set up with an obstacle course – tunnels, bars and poles – is also part of the program for any dogs that love to try out a new sport.
Champion Foods has also donated 1,000 tennis balls that will be sold for $10 each.
“The balls are put in a draw and you get to win $3,500 worth of merchandise. It includes doggie day care stays, spa treatment for your dog, treats and toys, a doorbell camera, a gift card for dog food and personal care products.”
Adding to the fun is a series of local entertainers ranging from soul funk artist Ann Vriend, singer-songwriter Kayla Kimo and Hawaiian multi-instrumentalist Stevon Artis to roots and blues singer Kat Danser, jazz-soul singer Terrell Edwards and St. Albert looper Paul Woida.
Admission is $20 for adults. Youth and children under 14 are free. For a complete schedule visit dogcityfestival.com.