DockDogs venue changing

Published 1:26am Friday, April 19, 2013

The DockDogs competition that’s been part of the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships for the past several years is moving to a new venue.

The Washington City Council was informed of the change during its meeting Monday. The DockDogs competition, once held at Kugler Field, will become part of the Summer Festival in 2014. The festival is organized by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.

The East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, organizer of the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships, chose not to renew its contract with DockDogs, according to David Gossett, former show chairman of the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships. Neal Woolard, who ran the DockDogs event in Washington for several years, accompanied Gossett.

The council approved gave its OK for the city to continue to provide funding for the DockDogs event. That amount for 2014 is $5,000, an amount the city has provided to help bring DockDogs to the city in recent years.

“We heard several months ago that the (guild) had no longer intended to have DockDogs back in 2014. When Neal heard this, he came to me and said, ‘David, we need to do something.’ It was such a great event. It was enjoyed by so many people. We need to do something to try to keep it here in Washington, for the people of Washington and the tourists that came to town,” Gossett said.

Gossett said he and Woolard met with Catherine Glover, executive director of the chamber of commerce, to discuss adding DockDogs to the Summer Festival lineup. She advised Gossett and Woolard to discuss the issue with the chamber’s directors.

“We did that a few weeks ago, and they were very supportive,” Gossett said.

The DockDogs event will be held somewhere along Stewart Parkway, said Gossett, adding that the 2014 DockDogs event will be free to the public. Previously, it cost $10 a person to view the DockDogs competitions at Kugler Field.

DockDogs headquarters in Medina, Ohio, told Gossett and Woolard that having the event in the summer instead of winter likely would triple the number of competitors. When held at Kugler Field, the event drew about 30 competitors each year, according to Woolard.

Woolard said Festival Park would be an excellent venue for the DockDogs competitions, especially with the Pamlico River as a backdrop to the event. The DockDogs personnel who attended events at Kugler Field said they want to have the competitions close to downtown so they and competitors can take advantage of what the festival offers.

“I will say ‘Thank you’ both of you for pulling this piece out of the festival and giving it a new time slot and a new home. I think it’s been very popular. I would want to maintain that momentum generated around things like that,” Mayor Archie Jennings said.

Several years ago, the council approved annual funding to bring DockDogs to the city, saying its investment would pay dividends in the form of competitors and tourists coming to the city and spending money. The DockDogs competitions occur over three days, with DockDogs personnel in the city from four to five days.

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