Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Bark in the Park festival Saturday in Thomas Park

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Bark in the Park, an annual summer festival that is all things dogs, will be returning to Chesterton’s Thomas Centennial Park on July 16. The festival, now in it’s fourth year, was created not only to give the people of Chesterton something fun to do with the family dog, but also to breathe life into the local economy.

“It started out as a way to give people around town something to do, and also to improve the town’s economic situation.” said Laura Layman, creator of Bark in the Park and member of the Duneland Business Initiative Group. “I had seen all around the country there were similar events. So I just picked up on their ideas and it was a big hit. People love it. It took off and it has been growing every year.”

The event, which begins officially at nine in the morning and goes until three in the afternoon, gets an unofficial start at 7 a.m. with the 5k Run with the Big Dogs where owners can bring their dogs out for some early morning exercise. If running is not your thing, there is also a 1k stroll, which is more family friendly. “You see families with little kids in strollers and fat little dogs like I have.” said Layman. “It’s not timed, it’s just a fun run.”

Once the festival kicks off, there are plenty of games and activities that will keep the family and the dogs entertained. “We will have a contest for best human barker.” said Layman. “No dog needed. People line up for that. We also have a contest for best dressed dog. The Winner last year was a Basset Hound dressed up like a cowboy. Complete with six-shooters.”

Other contests include best dog artist, where owners put paint on their dog’s paw’s and allow them to walk across a large piece of paper, and the homeliest dog competition, which will determine which dog is ugliest.

If you have a wiener dog and you think it was blessed with unnatural speed, there will be a wiener dog race. The entry fee is $2 and the winner will be given a prize. All proceeds for the wiener dog race will go towards the Chesterton Pet Pantry.

Positive Experience Training School, a dog obedience academy, will be making an appearance and putting on a show. “They come every year.” said Layman. “They give exhibitions and they also let people come in with their own dogs to (show their talents).” 

There is also a more serious side to the festival, with local pet shelters and regional pet organizations out to raise awareness of animal cruelty and malnourishment going on all over the country, as well as crowded pounds with many animals needing to be adopted by caring families. The festival almost doubles as an adoption drive. “The shelters will often bring a dog or two to represent what they have.” said Layman. “Some of them are specific with greyhounds or bulldogs. Then they will talk to people about adoption, and will actually get to start the paperwork. They won’t get the dogs right there, because that’s not how these guys work, but they will start the paperwork and if they are approved then they will get their dog about two weeks later.”

The Duneland Business Initiative Group is responsible for this and other events going on in Chesterton, including the Taste of Duneland, which happens Labor Day weekend, the Chesterton Wizard Oz festival, and coming this year the October Fest. For more information on Bark in the Park or any other of these festivals visit


Posted 7/13/2011




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