Woofstock, the Kansas Humane Society's biggest annual fundraiser, has come a long way since it started 13 years ago in Riverside Park.
About 600 people and their dogs attended that first "celebration of peace, love and pets" in 1997, raising $60,000 for the Humane Society.
Woofstock, which moved to Sedgwick County Park in 2003, drew 17,000 people and 5,000 dogs in 2009 and is expected to attract even more this year.
"I know they are expecting like 18,000 people," said Melissa Houston, communications specialist for KHS. "It's grown a lot since that first event."
The celebration, which features contests, music, food, shopping and all kinds of fun for pooches and their human partners, is one of Wichita's most popular outdoor events.
Activities returning this year are the 1.5-mile Woof, Walk and Wag fundraising walk, starting at 9:30 a.m., the Paws & Play Kids Zone, the person-dog look-alike contest, Canine Good Citizen certifications, water retrieval, a silent auction and photos by Wichita Eagle photographers.
An activity introduced last year, Ruff Races, was such a hit that it will be back in a larger space with more volunteer helpers, Houston said.
Ruff Races, "a competition to find the fastest four feet in Wichita," lines up three dogs at a time to run timed sprints. Trophies are awarded to the fastest large, medium and small dogs.
"Some people got really competitive" with the Ruff Races last year, Houston said.
People would watch their dogs run, then hang around "to see if another dog beat their time," she said. Then they would run their dog again, trying to beat that time.
"They like to see what their dogs can do," Houston said. "It's something to be proud of."
Woofstock 2010 will feature more than 100 pet-friendly vendors, a food court, live music by Rockin' Horse, and adoptable dogs hoping to meet new families.
As much fun as Woofstock is, its main purpose is raising money for the more than 18,000 animals the Humane Society cares for each year.
Admission to Woofstock is a suggested donation of $5, but KHS director of communications Jennifer Campbell urges people to register with a $25 donation, which will get them a Woofstock T-shirt and goodie bag.
Register online at woofstock.kintera.org; stop by KHS, at K-96 and Hillside, on Thursday or Friday; or register at Woofstock from 8:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 2.
"Like all nonprofits, we have found fundraising a little challenging this year and we need support more than ever," Campbell said.
Increasing adoptions has been a major focus at the Humane Society this year, Houston said, as it competes in the ASPCA $100K Challenge.
KHS is the only Kansas competitor in the challenge, vying against 46 other animal shelters across the country to adopt 300 more animals during the months of August, September and October than over the same three-month period in 2009.
The shelter that finds homes for the most animals will receive a $100,000 grant from the ASPCA. A second grant of $25,000 will be awarded to the shelter that engages the most community members in helping to save more animals' lives.
Adoption numbers are up since the challenge began, Houston said.
"We've had 1,213 adoptions since August 1, which is really good," she said Monday.
Adoption promotions over the past two months, like Family Fun Days and discount days for public service workers, have helped bring more people into the shelter, Houston said, as have partnerships with businesses such as Davis-Moore Auto Group, which is sponsoring a campaign to find homes for "certified pre-owned pets."
The Humane Society plans a special marathon adoption event for Oct. 22, when the shelter will be open all night, Houston said.
"We will stay open until we adopt out 200 animals," she said.
If you go
What: 13th annual fundraiser for the Kansas Humane Society
Where: Sedgwick County Park, 6300 W. 13th St.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 2
How much: Admission is a suggested donation of $5; a $25 registration includes a T-shirt and prize pack. To register online, go to woofstock.kintera.org.
For more information, go online to www.kshumane.org or call 316-524-9196. Also, look for a special Woofstock section inside Friday's Eagle.