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BEST group calls Dog Fest a Success

By Staff | Aug 30, 2013

Dogfest considered a success by organizers. BEST (Better Experiences for Shepherdstown Tourists) group prepares to continue a year of festivals.

According to Dog Fest organizers, Jan Hafer and Deb Tucker, Dogfest saw between 900 and 1000 attendees.

“Given it’s the first year, we’re very please with that,” said Tucker.

The group used filled parking spaces, the numbers of brochures handed out, and restaurant seats filled as a metric for their estimated traffic.

“As you know this is the second one (festival) in a series that our scrappy little group’s been working on, Tucker said of the event.

“We think this is really one that has captured the imagination of not only people from out of town, but locals,” she said.

“We are a dog-loving town,” Hafer seconded.

“This is the perfect festival for this town. It fits with the personality and culture,” she said.

Following last years Christmas in Shepherdstown celebration, Tucker and Hafer said they decided it would be beneficial to create more events like the traditional Christmas celebration to bring awareness to the town.

Members of the BEST group said their goal is to offer those who discover Shepherdstown, activities to come back for throughout year, working in concert with the Shepherdstown Business Association.

SBA President, Meredith Wait reported to BEST group members that the fest helped bring increased patronage to all the downtown shops and restaurants.

“Overall, everybody benefited,” Tucker said.

“They want to do it again.”

Hafer said events like Dogfest are meant to serve the dual purpose of attracting new visitors and keeping local residents engaged.

“It’s a community event,” she said.

With Dogfest set to return again next summer, the BEST group moves ahead now with plans for its next effort, Boo!Fest.

Though plans are still tentative, Tucker said the Halloween- themed weekend event may incorporate classic carnival games, and fall-time activities like hay rides, a pumpkin carving contest, ghosts tours, a haunted house, a scavenger hunt, etc.

In the interest of keeping their festivals free or low cost, one of the BEST group’s long-term challenges is to continue to pull funds together and broaden promotion through community partnerships, while testing out what hits and what misses for attendees.

“We’re in a trial year,” Tucker said.

For now, organizers are proud to note Dogfest’s many hit moments.

The Blessing of the Dogs, the two-day dog show, and the presentation about Towpath, the Wonder Pup, were all named among DogFest’s successes.

In addition to offering the community an entertaining two-days, Dogfest raised funding for local animal welfare organizations and provided a platform for animal welfare education.

“It’s almost like a public service event,” Hafer said.

To follow developments for Boo!Fest and find out more information on all upcoming events visit www.ShepherdstownVisitorsCenter.com.