Expanding Doggie Paddle Beachfest features barks and brews

Pooches can run leash-free and make new buddies at the Doggie Paddle Beach Fest at Canatara Park on July 21. Photo courtesy, Jenilyn Sheppard

Jake Romphf

Dogs of all shapes and sizes will be heading to Canatara Park on July 21 for the 3rd annual Doggie Paddle Beachfest.

Once again, a section of beach will be fenced off for dogs to run and play freely with their fellow, furry Fido friends. And for the first time, their owners can get a beer.

The pooch party’s inspiration was festivals commonly thrown on California beaches, said event coordinator Jenilyn Sheppard.

“There wasn’t anything up here, and we have such gorgeous beaches.”

The free-admission event features two off-leash play zones, races and contest. Among several team activities is a temptation alley, where dogs must race through a stretch filled with toys and treats while their owners wait at the finish line.

The leashes go back on for dog fitness, when owners run their pups through an obstacle course, completing exercises themselves along the way themselves.

“The dogs are entertained, the people are entertained, and everyone is getting a great workout,” Sheppard said.

Teams can also learn how to paddleboard or surf together. Sheppard said her own dog dislikes water but enjoys being on a board with her.

Beachfest runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will occupy part of the beach and bandshell area. New this year is a charity beer tent in support of the United Way, to be set up near the food trucks, vendors and live music that give the day a festival feel.

The United Way supports people and pets in the community, including the St. John Ambulance’s therapy dog programs, Sheppard said.