As the sun beamed down onto the streets of Shockoe Bottom, volunteers carefully placed small bowls of water on the sidewalks with the most tree coverage. Others equipped themselves with pooper-scoopers and plenty of small plastic trash bags. They were preparing for the thousands of families and friends who later streamed into the area, led by their eager four-legged companions.
The Enrichmond Foundation and 17th Street Farmers Market hosted the Inaugural Richmond Dog Festival Sept. 29. More than 35 vendors attended, offering goods for owners and pets alike, ranging from frozen lemonades to handmade dog treats.
âThis is a festival for dog owners, dog lovers and dogs themselves,â said Enrichmond Event Manager Liza Newell.
Although the festival is new to the city, about 1,000 guests could be seen strolling through at any time on Saturday. While many were accompanied by dogs, others, like VCU student Kristin Metzger, were there with friends to simply enjoy the atmosphere.
âSometimes dogs would come up to us and other times I would see a cutie across the street and go out of my way to engage with their owner,â Metzger said. âI really think interacting with these dogs for just a few minutes helped with mindfulness. I didnât end up spending any money, and I just felt very calm when we left.â
The festival kicked off on the event stage at 12:30 p.m. with a training seminar led by 2SpeakDog, a local company specializing in classes for dogs of all ages. Kasey Herrera, a certified trainer and owner of 2SpeakDog, led the presentation.
âItâs really important to be your dogâs advocate,â Herrera said. âEvents like this are great because it gives dogs a chance to socialize, which is crucial for development.â
Herrera trained the audience on how to introduce their dogs to others and how to maintain a relaxed and respectful relationship at home and elsewhere.
An hour later, the Richmond Police Department K-9 Unit gave a demonstration on the event stage. Police dogs showed off their ability to sniff out a small amount of marijuana which was purposely hidden by officers in a volunteerâs pocket. Then, an officer dressed in protective gear pretended to flee, showing how the dogs are trained to attack.
Richmond-based blues group Andrew Alli and The Mainline performed at 2 p.m. The music added to an already lively atmosphere, while guests found seats on hay bales in front of the stage or perused the wide selection of food trucks in the nearby parking lot.
After the performance, Holiday Barn Pet Resorts gave a demonstration on training techniques. The presenters taught guests how to properly walk a dog, including tips on holding the leash and keeping dogs at the walkerâs side.
To wrap up, the event stage was taken over by the Doggie Fashion Show, presented by FETCH a Cure. The Richmond nonprofit filled the stage with costumed dogs, some of which were seeking a new home. Guests had the opportunity to adopt from FETCH a Cure, along with Richmond Animal Care and Control, Richmond SPCA and Richmond Animal League.
Those interested in future events from The Enrichmond Foundation can find more information at enrichmond.org.