(April 26, 2019) Dogs of all shapes, ages, breeds and sizes can expect a howl-lot of fun during the sixth annual Pooch Palooza Dog Festival at Frontier Town in Berlin, Saturday and Sunday.
Presented by Delmarva Unleashed, the event features two days of games, contests and activities.
“It’s a great family event,” said Sandy Phillips, organizer of Pooch Palooza. “It’s the dog’s day to go out and have fun, while their humans hang with them. We really wanted to do something from the dog’s perspective, because we haven’t been able to find anything else like it on the East Coast anywhere.”
Last year, more than 1,000 dogs and 2,000 humans attended the festivities.
Pooch Palooza’s version of Bark for Life, “Hunt for Hope,” will take place prior to the 9 a.m. opening on Saturday.
“The money we will be raising, we are giving back to the American Cancer Society,” Phillips said. “But instead of coming and just raising funds and doing a walk, this is actually called ‘Hunt for Hope.’”
“Hunt for Hope” is a scavenger hunt which participants and their dogs will receive a list and search around before Pooch Palooza kicks off.
Gates will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with the Ultimate Air Dogs competition. Participants will jump for bumpers off the dock tank, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Three heats will take place throughout the day in addition to a fetch-it competition starting at 3 p.m. at the dock tank.
Several new events will be offered this year, including the Maze Runner.
“It’s basically what it sounds like … it’s a maze,” Phillips said. “Of course, doing it Pooch Palooza style, there is a twist but we’re not going to announce that until we get ready to run the maze runner.”
At least a dozen vendors will be on hand including stores such as Paws & Claws and Concord Pet in addition to HempWorx, which will offer cannabis products for dogs.
Low-cost rabies shots and microchips will be available at Pooch Palooza. Some dogs will also be available for adoption.
Precious Paws Animal Hospital and Banfield Pet Hospital will be on site and several professional training businesses including Smart Pups, U.S. Kennels, Delmarva K-9 and Dogs and Their Companions are slated to attend.
Delmarva Unleashed will have its annual cover model search at Pooch Palooza with four chances to make an impression. The winner will be featured on the cover of Delmarva Unleashed magazine.
Pooch Palooza features a costume contest, canine photo booth, demonstrations, training sessions, pie-eating contest, companion games including a canine-human team relay and the FastFetch Cup finals.
“It’s actually kind of a sophisticated game of fetch,” Phillips said. “We wanted to design something that everyone could participate in, even children. The ball has to be thrown 25 feet or 50 feet, depending on the size of the dog, and we time the dogs on the return … because they will all run after it like lightning, but some of them are not so good about coming back.”
All dogs will have a chance to qualify at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and the fastest retriever will be determined at 2 p.m. when the FastFetch Cup final takes place.
This year, there will be two FastFetch Cups; the original and one exclusively for border collies called the Battle of the Borders.
“The FastFetch Cup has been running for five years now, and the border collies are really hard to compete with,” Phillips said. “The labradors and any of the other big dogs that are running against the border collies just never stand a chance. We’re pulling the border collies out of the mix and they’re all going to run against each other.”
Once again, a helicopter will drop hundreds of tennis balls for dogs to retrieve. At the prize booth, participants could go home with a unique gift or at least keep the tennis ball for $2 a chance. Prizes range from 89 cents (the price of the ball) to $89.
Dogs can also participate in the lure chase where a plastic bag is tied to a continuous loop and pulled across the ground via a system of pullies, Phillips said.
“Lure Chase is presented by Swift Paws,” Phillips said. “They are manufacturers of lure coursing machines and now have released a backyard version that is very affordable. Because Delmarva Unleashed promotes a healthy canine lifestyle, fitness is a big part and this is another activity your dog can enjoy.”
All funds raised from the lure chase activity will help support Delmarva Outreach’s community goal to provide canine oxygen masks to every fire stations in Worcester County.
“It’s one of those things you hope you never need, but if you have a problem and they have a canine oxygen mask on board, maybe they can save your pet,” Phillips said. “These are veterinary grade oxygen masks, so they’re going to last for a long time.”
Pooch Palooza will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Frontier Town, off Route 611 (Stephen Decatur Hwy). Admission cost is $12 per person or $20 for a weekend pass. Dogs and children under 10 are admitted free.
“The best part is, I see that some people carry their dogs home because they’re just exhausted,” Phillips said. “It’s their day.”