Hara, 4, with her Newfoundland Waldo, 3.
- They gathered from miles around to compete in the Fido Festival - that's right - Westminister and all the rest of those fancy dogs shows and kennel clubs have nothing on the good looks and talent that pawed their way to the East End show ring on the grounds of the Hayground School on Saturday, Aug. 22.
The idea for the dog fair was adopted from the benefit pet fairs held years ago at Hickory Hill, the Virginia residence of Robert
and Ethel Kennedy
."We decided to make it just dogs," said Jason Neimark
, owner of the Hampton Pet Club. From puppies to more mature dogs, from immediately recognizable breeds to some not readily familiar to all, it was 'game on' among the canine set.
The benefit for the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center and the Hayground School Scholarship Fund brought these four-footed competitors front and center to be judged by Mercedes Ruehl
, the award winning Broadway and Hollywood actress who recently appeared at Bay Street Threatre; Mitchell Kriegman
, co-owner of East Hampton and Wainscott Studios and award winning creator of children's television programs for the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and PBSKids; and Dan Rattiner
, award winning writer, author and founder of Dan's Papers
. Emceeing the event was local radio personality, Walker Vreeland
Charlie, a 10-year-old Standard Poodle, whose owner only admitted to entering him for 'longest legs.'
No dog was turned away so no feelings were hurt - if you entered - you were judged.
The categories were tough, but nothing these charmers couldn't handle, including Worst Breath, Funniest Looking, Look-A-Like, Best Trick, Longest Tail, Longest Legs, Shortest Tail, Longest Ears, Biggest Nose, and Best Costume. Being the most democratic of all dog shows, if there wasn't a category already listed, ones were added to accommodate all the canines that entered the competition.
Kicking off with a display from "Flying Disc Dog" - a border collie who left all attendees panting at his energy - he flew through the air catching frisbees. Apparently applause is the water bowl from which 'Disc Dog' drinks, so up and down, and around he went, to the delight of all.
Kids of all ages had their own special share of the Festival from 11 a.m. on with art projects, jugglers, face painters, Muppet characters from "Sesame Street," and for older kids, the chance to fly through the air on a trapeze. Live, interactive music was presented throughout the day - Sandpiper Music Together for the youngest, the Escola de Samba BOOM
from Sagg Main Beach and, to wrap it all up, the sizzling Hot 8 New Orleans Brass Band. Food and drink were available from Annie's Organic Café and Market, Isbre, Gloria of the Hamptons, Provisions, Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs, Foody's, the Hampton Coffee Company and Citarella.
Three very warm but happy judges, Mitchell Kriegman, Merecedes Ruehl and Dan Rattiner, at the First Annual Fido Festival held at The Hayground School.
However, as the dog show began at 1 p.m., and truly confirmed the definition of 'dog days of summer' the relentless heat made for rather uncomfortable viewing by attendees perched on haystacks as well as a viewing stand under the brutal sun with no shaded areas available, so after the first category for Best Costume (won by Buddy of Sag Harbor, a dachshund in a sailor suit), many attendees could be seen headed to their air-conditioned vehicles, myself included, however, the competition carried on.
Gaston, 3, a Coton de Tulear was ready for his close-up.
Good spirits and encouragement were evident as each and every canine received the appropriate oohs and aahs befitting their role in the day's festivities, and a simply wonderful event honoring man's best friend allowed everyone to learn a few new tricks themselves about community support and participation in charitable events. Among the mutterings of 'good dog' could also be heard 'good time too.'
Jason Neimark of Hampton Pet Co. with his black Lab, Lalo, 8.