If every dog has its day, that day must surely be Saturday, and the place must be Sedgwick County Park in Wichita.
The park is the site of the 16th-annual Woofstock, a fundraiser for the Kansas Humane Society that draws thousands of dogs and dog lovers every year.
The event, which raises money to care for the 17,000 animals that come through the shelter’s doors each year, features contests and games for dogs, treats for dogs and adoptable dogs looking for new homes.
A Re“Tail” District with more than 90 vendors will offer products and services catering to dogs, with booths that feature veterinary clinics, animal waste removal, pet groomers and sitters, biscuit bakers and animal rescue groups.
Most importantly, Woofstock raises money to help homeless dogs — as well as cats and other animals — in the community. It’s the Kansas Humane Society’s largest fundraiser and raised $215,000 last year. This year’s fundraising goal is $227,000, said Jennifer Campbell, Kansas Humane Society director of communications.
Woofstock started as a “celebration of peace, love and pets” in 1997 in Riverside Park, drawing about 600 people and their dogs. It’s grown every year, even more so when the event moved to a larger space at Sedgwick County Park in 2003. About 10,000 people and 5,000 dogs are expected at this year’s event.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m., and the event kicks off at 9:30 with a 1.5-mile Woofstock Walk. Other activities include Doggie Musical Chairs (your dog must sit when the music stops); Ruff Races, a quest to find the “fastest four feet in Wichita”; sheep and goat herding; Bill & Denver’s Best-Dressed Contest, in memory of longtime Kansas Humane Society volunteer Bill Alexander and his sheepdog; Canine Good Citizenship evaluations to recognize well-mannered dogs; dog training demonstrations by Kansas Humane Society staff; and the Paws & Play Kids Zone, with bouncing and face-painting.
Throughout the day, humans can enjoy music from Sirens of South Central and Poultry ’N Motion, food from the Dog Daze Deli and other vendors in the food court, shopping and bidding in the silent auction. Volunteers from the Kansas Humane Society will showcase dogs available for adoption.
A special guest this year is J-Si Chavez, from the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show, on 105.3 The Buzz radio. Photographers from The Eagle will take portraits of people and their pets, with proceeds going to the humane society.
One special giveaway is of more interest to humans than dogs: A $5 donation buys a chance to win a year of free movies for four, plus snacks, from Warren Theatres, tacos from Taco Bell or pizza from Pizza Hut.
What keeps so many people and their canine companions coming back to Woofstock year after year?
“Honestly, I think it’s a really enjoyable time for them and their dogs,” Campbell said. “And there aren’t that many things that you can bring your dog to.”
Besides all the fun with Fido, the event raises vital funds that “help to save animal lives,” Campbell said.
“It’s a genuinely fun event, and it’s for a really good cause,” she said. “Children enjoy it, the park’s a beautiful setting. It’s just a great day for everyone.”