Downtown is going to the dogs

Downtown is going to the dogs

By Skyler Williams, special to The Examiner

Downtown Beaumont has gone to the dogs — cutely clothed, sunglass-wearing, adorable dogs, to be exact. Beaumont’s sixth annual DOGtoberfest is prepared to bring family, food and four-legged friends together for a day of fun activities Saturday, Oct. 4. From the Master/Dog Look-a-like Contest to the Strutt your Mutt Parade, organizers say the free event promises to be packed with more excitement than you can shake a stick at.

People and pups alike will enjoy a day of contests, activities and shopping at such attractions as the Neiman Barkus booth, a doggy SPAW, the Barkery, and many other fun-filled (and pun-filled) events.

“DOGtoberfest has been one of our most successful fund-raising events,” said Carolyn Howard, executive director of Beaumont Main Street, the nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of Beaumont’s historic downtown district. “This event is a family friendly, positive activity that brings people from all over the area into downtown. We want people to see the downtown area as a good, safe place for fun and entertainment.”

Attendance for the event has increased steadily every year, with an estimated 3,000 people and their pooches poised to be present for 2014.

“DOGtoberfest brings people downtown, some of whom may not have had a reason to visit downtown before,” Howard added.

Previous year’s festivals have welcomed visitors from all over Southeast Texas, and word is still spreading.

“We’re going to DOGtoberfest for our first time this year,” says Anna Mouhot of Nederland, speaking for Gypsy, her 6-year-old shelter rescue. “I heard about it last year from a friend, but we couldn’t make it. It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

New sponsors this year, including the Beaumont Enterprise, J.K. Subaru, and Mobiloil Federal Credit Union, have joined the list of more than 60 businesses and organizations contributing to the event’s success.

Prior to the festivities planned for Saturday morning, Beaumont Main Street is hosting Yappy Hour on Thursday, Oct. 2, at Edison Plaza from 6:30-9 p.m. The focal point of the fundraiser is the Dogs of DOGtoberfest art auction.

“Fourteen local artist between the ages of 8 and 19 were given identical dog statues to paint,” said Howard. “We have some really amazing young artists in the Beaumont area.”

The Dogs of DOGtoberfest statues will be on display at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas for the week leading up to Yappy Hour, where they will then be auctioned off to the highest bidders. This fundraising event is for humans only, and tickets can be purchased at the Beaumont Main Street website.

In addition to the planned festivities, Beaumont Main Street has organized its first ever film and photography competitions, working closely with Lamar University’s College of Fine Arts of Communication on student submissions.

Award-winning photographer Keith Carter is judging the photo contest, and winners of both competitions will have their works on display at Yappy Hour.

Being a dog owner is not a prerequisite for attending the festival, though being a dog lover is highly recommended. For those looking to adopt a new fur-friend, several rescue groups will be in attendance, including the Humane Society of Southeast Texas, with dogs available for adoption.

“We have participated for the last five years,” says Carrie May, Humane Society shelter manager. “Our booth will have items for sale, a dog house up for auction or raffle, and five or six of our adoptable dogs for people to meet.”

The Humane Society will also be accepting donations and applications for adoption, and they are participating in the Adoptable Dogs Style Show.

DOGtoberfest will kick off Oct. 4 at 8 a.m. with a Pooches and Pancakes breakfast, with the booths, contest and shopping lasting from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The festivities will be held downtown on the green space next to the Julie Rogers Theater and the Downtown Public Library.

Information, contest rules, and a schedule are available at Visit for Yappy Hour tickets.