Festival prepares to add DockDogs

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Contributing Editor

Members of the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild are gearing up for the 15th-annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival &North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships set for Feb. 5-7, 2010, in Washington.
Getting ready for the 2010 festival includes preparations for a new addition to the annual event — a DockDogs competition. The competition requires dogs to run toward the end of a dock and leap as far as they can into a ready-placed tank of water.
“DockDogs — it’s a three-day competition,” said David Gossett, show chairman of the annual festival. “They will run all day Friday, all day Saturday, all day Sunday. They will have their finals Sunday afternoon.”
The competition will be held at Kugler Field. In May, the City Council voted to allocate $5,750 to help pay for bringing DockDogs to Washington. In supporting the addition of DockDogs to the festival, council members said they believe the event will enhance a festival that already brings money to the city. The city will realize some revenue from DockDogs because the event requires water for the tanks. That water will be purchased from the city.
Gossett said interest in DockDogs coming to the city continues to grow.
“We’ve been having a lot of inquiries. We’re excited about it,” he said Monday during a brief interview.
Gossett said he recently receive an e-mail from Carolina DockDogs, a club in Sanford. That e-mail indicates the DockDogs competition in Washington can expect “up to 140 dogs from that club alone,” Gossett said.
“I’d hate to make a guess on how many competitors we might have. We may have up to 250 competitors. We are going to be prepared for whatever shows up,” Gossett said about the Washington competition.
Adding the DockDogs competition to the festival will be challenging and rewarding, Gossett said.
“This first year is going to be a real learning process for us. … We are jumping into new territory for us,” Gossett said. “As we want with all of our events, we want DockDogs to be a quality event.”
DockDogs competitions come in three categories — leaping for distance, vertical jumps and speed (timed) retrievals.
The dog who jumps the farthest, leaps the highest or retrieves the fastest in a division wins that division.
Prize money, which comes from entry fees of about $20 to $25 per dog, is awarded to top-finishing dogs. There are professional, semi-professional and novice divisions, and area residents may enter their dogs in the competitions.
Kugler Field with its bleachers, concession stand, bathrooms and ticket booth is a good site because it more than enough room to accommodate the docks and water tanks needed for the competitions, Gossett said.
The 2010 festival will include a significant change to its usual lineup of events.
This year, the Southern Classic Duck, Goose and Swan Calling Championships will become a two-day event. In past years, the event was held on Saturdays. This year, the event will begin Saturday morning, recess Saturday afternoon and resume at noon Sunday, Gossett said.
“In recent years, the competitions did not end until late in the day when it was getting dark,” Gossett said. “We thought it best to make it a two-day event.”
Expect the festival to get bigger and better each year, he said. To that end, Gossett’s wife, Sandra, who is in charge of recruiting vendors and exhibitors to the festival, is signing up more well-known wildlife artists.
“Sandra has gotten so many new exhibitors this year. People who come to the show are in for a real treat this year,” Gossett said.