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High-flying pooches head Pet Fest
Fundraiser for Hall Animal Shelter includes competition, 5K race, entertainment
Four-year-old Marlowe, a Golden Retriever, jumps into a pool during last year's Dixie Dock Dogs big air competition as part of the Lake Lanier Pet Fest at Laurel Park. Marlowe jumped 16 feet, 1 inch. - photo by SARA GUEVARA


Lake Lanier Pet Fest

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 1-2

Where: Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville

How much: $5 per car; additional charges for other activities

More info: 678-450-1587

Pet-lovers and their four-legged friends will soon converge on Laurel Park for a weekend of animal-inspired fun. 

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 1-2, the park at 3100 Old Cleveland Highway in Gainesville will play host to the annual Lake Lanier Pet Fest. Entry into the park is $5 per car, but there may be an additional charge for some activities.

The two-day event will feature the Dixie Dock Dogs regional competition, demonstrations by Atlanta Dog Agility and pet-friendly games.

The Dixie Dogs competition will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 30 with on-site registration and practice. The first round of competitions will begin at noon Oct. 1 and continue Oct. 2. Pets will be competing in categories like speed retrieval, where the dogs are timed in securing an object from the pool, and big air, where dogs leap off the end of a dock to retrieve a toy tossed into the air. 

Pet Fest will also include the Pet Fest 5K and one-Mile Pet Trot road races, plus live music and entertainment. Jayne Olderman, a singer and composer from Gainesville, will perform “I’ve Got a Feeling (The Animal Rescue Song)” at 9 a.m. Saturday, dedicated to encouraging more people to open their hearts to homeless animals.

Pet owners can also enter their animals in daily contests like best dressed, owner-pet lookalike and best trick.

Whether they are competing, or not, all pets are welcome at the event as long as they are trained, leashed and current on vaccinations. If you are a pet lover, but don’t have one bring to Pet Fest, don’t worry; the shelter will have animals available for adoption.

On both days, the Georgia Mountains YMCA will offer a kids’ activity area and the Laurel Park spray zone will be open. 

Food and pet-related vendors will be on hand throughout the festival.

This year’s event will also feature the Bass Fishing Tournament at the Laurel Park Mega Ramp. The tournament will begin at “safe light” Saturday morning and conclude at 2:30 p.m. Entry fees are $50 per team. Payouts will be given to the top 10 teams and for biggest fish.

Pet Fest is a fundraiser for Hall County Animal Shelter adoption programs. According to organizers, the shelter at 1688 Barber Road in Gainesville currently only meets the needs of about 25 percent of the stray pet population. Events like this one helps the shelter find permanent homes for more animals.