Wag Fest

I am thrilled to say that Browning Photo made its debut at Wag Fest in Hilliard!

After months of preparation for my first canine festival, I spent the past week watching the weather forecast. And by watching the weather, I mean hitting F5 (the refresh button) on my keyboard constantly to see the latest predictions. Within the same day the forecast would go from Scattered Thunderstorms, 80% chance of rain, to Partly Cloud, 20% chance of rain. My husband just laughed when it showed up at 50% of precipitation - "It may rain, it may not," he said helpfully. Well the rain rolled in with a torrential downpour at about 3pm, but since we'd been set up since 9am, that was a pretty long day with lots of face time with dogs and their humans. (Note: I included this video because 1) a dog is wearing an ice cream sundae costume and 2) the last two seconds of this clip must have tempted fate because the massive, massive thunderstorm cell rolled in soon after.)

I could not have asked for a better day with a great response. A lot of work went into getting the vendor booth just right, and we pulled it off. The tent and professional vendor display boards were loaned to me courtesy of an artist friend. I bought the signs and spent a small fortune on samples. Believe it or not, I had many, many samples that I didn't display! Even between the display boards and the table, we had more photos than we knew what to do with.

The numbers of attendees are hard to count, but I've seen it predicted that last year was about 12,000 people and this year the organizers were projecting 16,000 people. I hadn't been to Wag Fest in three years, so when I was last there just as a regular dog lover in 2013 there were thousands of dogs and owners.

One of the best things about Wag Fest is the ice bath. Our dog was not even a year old when we went, so she was still kind of skittish. There is always a HUGE swimming pool filled with ice that the dogs romp around in. In 2013 I took my video camera and recorded our dog hesitantly walking up to the ice bath, where probably fifty other dogs were playing, then pull away. Then she'd walk back up and put one paw in, testing the water, then backing up. Finally she did two paws, then at last she went all the way in. Suddenly she was romping and happy and didn't know why she was scared because clearly this was the greatest thing on earth. My husband and I have always talked about her in that ice bath and how we should do it at home on a really hot summer day. We could get three or four bags of ice at the store and let her go to town right in our own bathroom. Of course I'd have to film it!

I just adored that so many people let their dogs come give me sniffs, hugs, and even a few sloppy kisses. There was one bulldog who marched behind the table and wanted petted. When I was moving closer to pet him, he violently threw himself onto his back, knocking over a chair in the process, just so his belly was up and ready to be loved on! A bunch of the vendors and I laughed at his antics.

Overall it was a wonderful experience. Since it was our first event where we manned a booth, it was a learning experience and of course there were things we didn't think to do. For instance, when you're setting up a tent and table and lots of equipment in the grass in the early morning hours, there will be dew that will get your feet wet! We should have taken extra socks and a change of shoes - although it got so busy so quickly that I didn't even notice after a little time passed. I wish I had gotten a chance to visit the other vendors and see the disc catching competition. We had a great view of the dogs diving into the lake - I was very much missing my camera and zoom lens when we would turn and glimpse a big splash of a dog landing in the water.

Thank you to everyone involved with Wag Fest, and most of all thank you to the wonderful canine companions who make everything worth it.