Lobo, one of the contestants in the Dog and Owner Look-Alike contest, The Fun Dog Show, Market Square, Old Town Alexandria, VA, March 4, 2017 (TraceyDowdy)
One of the most popular events at Alexandria’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the Fun Dog Show, held in Old Town’s Market Square. The event is sponsored by parade organizers The Ballyshaners and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA).
This year’s event was a great success, drawing a large crowd despite cold temperatures.
Unlike professional dog shows like Crufts or the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show , The Fun Dog Show features family pets rather than show dogs and the focus is definitely on fun, not formality. The contest draws both local pet owners and those from out of state, including Maryland and West Virginia.
Alexandria’s Mayor Alison Silberberg welcomed the crowd and thanked the AWLA, its staff and volunteers. She commended them for their work rescuing and sheltering homeless animals and praised the quality of services they provide the City of Alexandria. Steve Rudin, meteorologist from ABC affiliate WJLA served as Master of Ceremonies and led the crowd in judging each category. Julie Wilson, Ms. Virginia 2017, also made an appearance and posed with lucky pets and their owners.
Fun Dog Show contestants are divided into four categories: Most Outrageous, Most Creative, Dog-Owner Look-Alike, and Luckiest Dog. The winner in each category is awarded prizes ranging from gift baskets to gift certificates specially chosen with dog owners in mind.
For the crowd, the opportunity to interact with the dogs, scratch some bellies and tickle behind furry ears is one of the highlights of the day. In addition to families with pets, AWLA volunteers brought adoptable dogs to the event and walked through the crowd allowing families an impromptu meet and greet with potential pets. All the winners, contestants, and dogs are invited to march with the Animal Welfare League in the parade after the show.
The show is the kickoff to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a tradition started by the Ballyshaner’s (Old Towner’s in Gaelic) that dates back to the early 1980’s. Since then, they’ve built on the success of each year’s events and have even added Classic Car Show to the St. Patrick’s Day parade festivities.