BY TABITHA MUELLER
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Roughly 500 people along with their canines and one hedgehog gathered at Dick Taylor Memorial Park on Saturday for Reno’s 6th annual DogFest. The event is a celebration of four-legged friends and volunteerism.
Canine Companions for Independence, the City of Reno and the University of Nevada Center for Student Engagement co-hosted the festival. The festival featured giveaways from local businesses, pet photos with Santa, live music, paw-painting and a costume contest.
Proceeds went to Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit dedicated to providing service dogs free-of-charge to individuals with disabilities.
“It’s nice to get together and recognize our fur babies,” said Brandi Durham, a festival attendee.
Accessibility was at the heart of the event.
Amy Koeckes, associate director for student engagement at the University of Nevada, said she and other organizers chose Dick Taylor Memorial Park because of its full accessibility which includes a wheelchair-friendly swing. They also hired an ASL interpreter for speakers.
“We want everyone to be able to participate and enjoy themselves, and my hope is that everybody had a good time. I saw a lot of dogs out here; I saw a lot of people cheering for the costume contest. I hope they just come out to know that they have a good day at the park,” Koeckes said.
The festival wrapped up with an audience-choice canine costume contest. More than 20 dogs entered the competition and costumes ranged from lions, bumblebees and superheroes, to Hannibal Lecter and a Cubs fan.
The announcer for the contest introduced each dog pageant-style with information about their hobbies and pastimes.
Although every dog received applause from the crowd, the loudest cheers and first place prize went to Sherpa, a Landseer ECT, who dressed as a milk deliverer.
Koeckes and other organizers of DogFest are already thinking about next year.
“What I love most about this event is the community collaboration and getting more people involved with a cause that directly impacts our community,” she said.
For more information on the festival or volunteering, contact Koeckes at email@example.com.