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Monday, November 20, 2017, 2:07 a.m.

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Festivals for four-legged friends

By Kayla Baugh

This article was published October 19, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

Dick and Nancy Bernard spend the day with their dog at last year’s Bark in the Park event in Batesville.

Hit the park with man’s best friend for a day of games, contests, food and everyday play.

The ninth annual Bark in the Park will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at Riverside Park in Batesville.

Sydney Lambert, volunteer at the Humane Society of Independence County, said all proceeds from the event will benefit the organization.

The mission of the Humane Society is to provide shelter for animals that have been abused, abandoned or neglected, she said.

She said the Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. “We receive no county, state or federal funding,” she said. “We operate on donations only, and the adoption fees we collect when someone adopts one of our animals.”

Bark in the Park will feature a variety of contests, she said, including Best Barker, Best Costume, Big Mutts in Lingerie, Best Kisser and Look-Alike.

Games will include bobbing for hot dogs, a bone-yard dig, Trick-for-a-Treat, a clean-your-plate game and the popular weenie race, she said.

Vendors at the event will sell dog accessories, books, food, clothing, jewelry and more, she said.

Lambert said admission is $10 per family and includes all games and contests.

Lambert’s mother, Lisa Lambert, is a Humane Society board member and is involved in planning the event.

“We have been volunteering for three years and absolutely love it. The past two years, we have been in charge of the ‘clean your plate’ game,” Lisa said. “This year, we are looking forward to doing different games and activities, as well as having vendors and different types of food.

“We strive to successfully secure loving, stable homes for these animals. It is our goal to reduce the unwanted pet population by encouraging and promoting the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats through education and awareness.”

Lisa said the organization hosts three annual fundraisers: Trivia Night in April, Bark in the Park in October and Portraits With Pets in November.

The organization also transports animals to PetCo in Jonesboro and PetSense in Batesville throughout the month to promote adoption opportunities, she said.

Sydney said she is a part of the Humane Society because volunteers are the only chance some animals have to survive.

“I know it sounds cliché, but animals cannot speak for themselves, so who will speak for them if we don’t? Our mission is to rescue. Our dream is that one day we won’t have to.”

In Searcy, the 14th annual Barkin in the Park event will take place Saturday at Spring Park.

Chuck Niementowski, Event Committee member, said registration will begin at 10 a.m., and the first event will kick off at 10:30 a.m.

Dogs must be on a leash, he said, and admission and activities are free.

Contests will include a dog parade, Best Costume, Best Trick, Guess the Breed and a musical-dogs competition.

“Musical dogs is a popular one. The dogs go around in a circle to music, and when the music stops, they have to sit. The last dog to sit is eliminated, just like in the kids game. That’s always a lot of fun,” he said.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third places for the dog parade, Best Costume and Best Trick, he said.

Gift baskets will be provided to winners, he said, which will be packed with prizes such as dog cookies, dog toys and T-shirts for owners.

Niementowski said workshops and demonstrations will also be spaced out throughout the day, including K9 scent work, a barn hunt and obedience training.

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask a vet questions, and groomer booths will also be set up, he said.

Hot dogs, funnel cakes, corn dogs and drinks will be sold at the event by the Humane Society of Searcy, and Burrito Day will also be a vendor.

“The purpose of the event is to create awareness of adopting an animal from the shelter. We always take opportunities to promote spaying and neutering your pets. We have an overpopulation in this country because people aren’t getting their dogs spayed or neutered,” he said.

Last year, 1,017 animals were adopted through the Humane Society of Searcy, he said, and about 700 people attended Bark in the Park.

“It’s just a fun family event. We get a lot of families that bring their dogs out, and everyone seems to have a good time and like it,” Niementowski said. “It’s been getting bigger and bigger.”

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

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