BRICK – It was a dog day afternoon when an estimated 2,500 people and their canines attended the eighth annual Dog Fest, hosted by the Brick Township Rotary Club.
There was no entry fee for dogs or children, but adults paid a $5 admission fee for the event. There were also 43 vendor booths that paid $100, although non-profit vendors were charged $50 for space.
Twenty percent of the money raised would go to area non-kill animal shelters, such as Seers Farm in Jackson, BFF Dog Rescue, Shore Volunteer Animal Enterprise (SAVE), and others, said Dog Fest chair Rotarian Elizabeth Ackerman.
Last year Brick Township Rotary Club gave out seven $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors, and proceeds from the event also benefit local charities, and some international charities if needed, she said.
“The more money we raise, the more we can give out,” said Ackerman. “No one takes salaries in the Rotary, we are all volunteers and all the profits go to charities.”
Last year, Dog Fest was the organization’s only fundraiser, but Ackerman said they hope to hold a tricky tray this spring.
Dog Fest has always been held at Windward Beach Park, but for the first time the venue was changed to the VFW Post 8867 on Adamston Road.
Mayor John G. Ducey, who came to Dog Fest with his young son, said that due to Green Acres rules, the public could not be charged admission to Windward Beach Park.
“It has to have free and open access, although if people are ticketed and they pay in advance, that’s okay, but they can’t charge on site,” he explained.
The new venue was just fine with Donna and Phil McEntee, who live on their boat at Wehrlen’s Marina during the summer. The McEntee’s brought their Morkipoo (a Maltese/Yorkie/Poodle mix) to Dog Fest.
“We used to go to Dog Fest at Windward Beach – it was near our boat, but this is also very nice. They have a pavilion so you can get out of the sun,” Donna said.
The Keller family, which includes Mitch and Karen and their two children, Robert, 9, and Elisabeth, 7, brought their two mutts, Mitzi and Kingston, to Dog Fest.
“This is really fun. We are looking to adopt another dog, maybe a little mutt, a Chihuahua mix this time,” Karen said.
“We’re just walking around, visiting with other dogs. Our dogs love it, they love getting out,” added Mitch.
The family, who live off Mantoloking Road, said they were happy with the new location, especially since it’s closer to their home.
Hanlon K9, a private company that trains dogs, held an obedience demonstration at Dog Fest.
Brick Police K9 Officer John Turrin was on hand to watch the demonstration. Brick Township Police Department has four dogs in their K9 unit who are trained on- and off-leash, he said.
“They are trained to sniff out narcotics, explosives, and they do tracking and officer protection,” said Turrin, who works together with his K9 partner, Vader.
Dog Fest opened at 11 a.m., and shortly afterwards Brick Rotary President Mark Balsam made opening remarks.
In addition to the K9 demonstrations, there was a doggie adoption parade, and 17 dog contests, judged by WOBM’s Shawn and Sue. There was even a Blessings for the Dogs by Rev. Deanna Jaworski.
After the doggie contests, the Chairman’s Choice Award Parade was held, where all dogs were invited to march and try to win the grand prize.
Ackerman said that attendance was slightly down this year over last year which she said was probably because of the change in venue.
“Some people had gone to Windward Beach, but next year people will realize where we are,” she said in a phone interview after the event. She said they were still adding up the receipts from Dog Fest, which included entry fees, contest entry fees, vendor revenue, a 50/50 drawing, and more.