Dogs of all shapes and sizes — and their owners — are welcome at a weekend event
By Elizabeth Gwilt
The second annual Bark Fest at the dog park on Collier Parkway will provide an array of activities for pets and owners alike.
The event, which will be Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature vendors selling everything from dog toys to food. Donations from attendees and vendors will go to the local SPCA.
Ruth Ann Collins, the recreation leader at the Land O’ Lakes complex, says that the purpose behind Bark Fest is twofold.
“Besides raising funds for SPCA, we want the public to know that there is a dog park in Land O’ Lakes, and that it’s a great place to bring your entire family,” Collins said.
Bark Fest is in two different sections of the dog park, with areas for both small and larger animals. A variety of demonstrations, a mobile vaccination center and the dog and disc Frisbee competition qualifier will also be headlining attractions.
“We wanted to provide a variety of activities; it’s going to be bigger and better than last year’s, which was already a fabulous success,” Collins said.
This year, more vendors and demonstrations will make their way to the dog park, such as the grooming demonstration, a crowd favorite.
Collins asks anyone willing to donate, whether it’s pet items or money, to stop by the festival. “Bark Fest is sure to be a fun time, and I encourage everyone to come out and spend some time with your pets in the fresh air.”
Lorey Tinti, an attendee at last year’s Bark Fest, said she can’t wait for the upcoming event.
“I’m absolutely going to Bark Fest again; it’s just such a great event that the community can all go to together,” Tinti said.
Tinti went with her beagle-hound mix, Trooper, after she heard about plans for the festival. “I loved watching Trooper interact with the other dogs,” she said. “But the speed tail wagging and howling contests were fun to watch too.”
Tinti said that she would like to see more dogs be taken home after this year’s Bark Fest. “I hope people will adopt even more pets this year. There were so many wonderful dogs last year that deserve homes.”
Tasha Hyder, who organized the first Bark Fest before Collins took over, agrees with Tinti.
“Although last year was a great success, I would love to see more of the dogs get adopted, as well as raising more money for SPCA,” Hyder said.
Bark Fest raised $500 and three huge bags of pet supplies last year, but Hyder said that she would love the donations to reach $5,000.
Hyder, who now lives in Jacksonville, is making the trip to Tampa in order to go to the festival.
“I’m so happy how successful it’s been after only one year. I was shocked, since I was only expecting 200 or so people, but over 1,000 showed up.”
Tinti, along with several hundred other dog lovers, are expected to spend their Saturday at the Collier Parkway dog park. “If you have a dog, want to adopt a dog or just like being around dogs, then I strongly encourage you to come,” Tinti said.
The dog park is located at 3032 Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes.