Hundreds of pug owners from all over Orange County flocked to TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa on Saturday, Oct. 10 for the 16th annual Pugtoberfest.
Pugtoberfest was sponsored by Pugs ‘N Pals of Southern California, a dog rescue organization that is based out of Newport Beach. This event brought pug parents and pug admirers together for an afternoon filled with fun contests, adorable entertainment, an opportunity to adopt a dog and a chance to mingle with other fans of the breed.
The day started off with a welcome speech from Tina Seri, president of Pugs ‘N Pals. She thanked everyone for attending and spent a few minutes sharing stories about pugs and other breeds that are currently being fostered by Pugs ‘N Pals.
The floor was then opened up to festival-goers who rescued their current dog at the same event from past years to share their stories.
Following the speech and special dog stories portion of the welcoming reception, the organization conducted a parade around the audience and front lawn with its participants consisting of dogs that were up for adoption at this year’s event.
After the opening ceremony concluded it was off to the races as dog owners lined up their four-legged friends for the fan-favorite event of the day, the pug race.
Dozens of eager pug parents straddled the starting line as they excitedly anticipated the count down from a hesitant Seri, who was like a kindergarten teacher residing over a rambunctious classroom, waiting for order.
After regaining composure of the excited pugs, over 20 of them began a bold sprint towards their owners who were furiously reciting their dog’s names at the other end of the course. Half of the dogs stopped midway to engage in a rousing game of sniff one another while returning champion, Ponch crossed the finish line in a less than graceful fashion.
Finding a home for fostered pugs is one of the main goals of the event. Each year a section of the grounds is dedicated to dog adoptions, as potential pug parents can meet with and play with fostered pups. One proud new pug parent and Pugtoberfest regular is Linkin Park’s frontman, Chester Bennington.
“We’re excited to bring Chance home with us as a new member of the family,” Bennington said. “Now Haba (Bennington’s current family pug) has a new brother. My family and I are very happy to be here.”
The costume contest was another event that was highly anticipated as nearly a third of all the dogs in attendance were dressed up. More than a dozen canines showed off their costumes as they strutted their stuff past the judges; few owners got into the spirit as well. The first place certificate and prize bag went to the chihuahua Batman, complete with batmobile or (dogmobile) and cape.
A best kisser contest and a find your pug contest also generated a lot of attention. Dave Hester from A & E’s Storage Wars was in attendance to partake in the festivities.
“I set up shop at pervious events, but this year I am here strictly to have fun and enjoy the festival,” Hester said. “I am going to try my luck at the find your pug contest.”
Along with the charm-filled contest, there were a number of booths that were dedicated to raffles, silent actions and other ways to generate proceeds and help Pugs ‘N Pals.
This year’s event saw a lower attendance than previous occasions but according to Seri, it was an overall success and she looks forward to year 17. Seri explained that there is a lot that goes into Pugtoberfest, which is the biggest fundraiser of the year, but a lot comes out of it as well.
“It takes about six months to prepare for. Getting vendors, publicizing, getting donations for the raffle, silent auction items from individuals and businesses. A lot of organizing goes into it and a lot of volunteer hours are donated in order to make it happen,” Seri said. “We started (Pugtoberfest) in Oct.1999, as a way to get pug owners together and participate in many fun activities, but more importantly, raise some much needed money to continue our mission to rescue as many dogs as we can.”
The proceeds from Pugtoberfest are directed towards helping the organization rescue more dogs and pay for the high cost of vet bills that range from $80 to $90,000 a year. They are also needed to rehabilitate and care for fostered dogs.
For more information of Pugs ‘N Pals of Southern California, visit their website at pugdogrescue.com.