Rockford Dog Festival

Park plans expand to bring Rockford a dog festival

July 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Happy Hounds in downtown may become an annual dog-centered festival if dog park planners are able to pull it off. Organizer Tom VanderSloot described his vision during an evening planning session held at the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building Thursday, June 30. VanderSloot would like to see a Relay for Life-type event at the track field of North Rockford Middle School—except centered on canines instead of cancer prevention and education. He described a fun, festival atmosphere with booths from vendors and sponsors, music, entertainment, contests—such as a dog costume competition—dog demonstrations and featuring a walk around the track, down a short route through downtown Rockford and back to the track. VanderSloot came up with the idea after hearing about a similar event on the west coast. He’s had the idea for years after noticing what a “doggy” town Rockford is. In the Harvard Hounds festival in Washington, the funds raised are split between an animal benefit organization, such as the Humane Society, and one that benefits humans. VanderSloot suggested first raising funds for the dog park and North Kent Community Services. The Harvard Hounds event raises $50,000 each year. VanderSloot didn’t think the event here, especially in its first year, would raise anywhere near that much but may significantly contribute to the total of $12,000 that dog park organizers have been tasked with raising. Funds from the festival could come from sponsorships from Top Dog on down financially through categories such as Show Dog, Working Dog, Companion Dog, etcetera for the amount of money pledged, from businesses buying booths and from registration fees to participate in the parade and day’s events. In February, dog-walking friends Marlene Clark, Nancy Seeley and Emily Weinmann began collecting signatures of residents who are in favor of dedicating currently unused park land in Rockford to a dog park. A former ball diamond south of Picket Park off the Rogue River would allow a fenced park about 160 by 180 feet. It would be divided into two sections, one for large and one for small dogs. The dog park organizers had asked the Rockford City Council if there was interest by the City in creating the park and had an estimated budget of $20,000 for the project. Council […]