Celebrate “Barkfest” Valentine’s Day weekend in Lewes

by Michael Short on February 24, 2011

By Michael Short

Valentine’s Day weekend is known for many things. It’s a weekend of romance and roses, dinner and dancing, long lingering looks and lasting love.

But in Lewes, it’s also known for four legged furry friends. The Lewes Winter Barkfest (formerly Winterfest) is geared around our feline and canine friends with a pet pageant and “yappy” hour among the scheduled events.

The event is a chance to attract people to downtown Lewes on Valentine’s Day weekend. With the holidays over and spring still weeks in the future, it can be a dreary time of year.

Lewes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Betsy Reamer said that the name of the festival was changed after she noticed “the dogs had sort of taken over the weekend.”
She said that Lewes has become more “dog-centric” and that the animals have truly become the centerpiece of the Winterfest. The signature event, a pet pageant, will continue again this year.

Pets of all descriptions are allowed to take part in the pet promenade and pageant on Bark Street. It’s actually on Bank Street, but the street is renamed for a few hours on Saturday, Feb. 12  in honor of the canine and feline stars.

There are no restrictions on the pets allowed to take part in the pageant, but only dogs have taken part thus far. The lone exception was a pet pig owned by some local Lewes residents.

The promenade and pageant is modeled after a more traditional beauty pageant with pets competing in formal wear and leisure wear categories. There is also a very popular look-alike competition where pets and owners will both be judged on who looks most alike.

It’s not certain whether the animals start to look like the owners or the owners start to look like the animals.

There is also a kids freestyle competition offered, with entries limited to children only.

“The pet pageant has really got a following,” Reamer said.

Registration for the 2 p.m. pageant takes place at Pawsitively Unique Pet Shop on Second Street. Besides P.U.P.S., you can also register in front of Citizens Bank on the day of the pageant. Cost is $5 and prizes will be awarded.

Lesley Bowers will emcee the pageant and the three judges will be local businessman Lou Braithwaite, Kathy Davison of Comcast Spotlight and Debbie Sheing.

The weekend includes pet photography at P.U.P.S.  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and a chance to bring donations for the SPCA, ranging from pet food to kitty litter, blankets, sheets, toys, dog bones and bleach (for cleaning kennels).

There will also be SPCA shelter dogs on hand for anyone looking for a new addition to their family.

Much of the weekend will benefit the Sussex County SPCA. Proceeds from the pet pageant as well as 50/50 raffle proceeds from Friday night’s “Yappy Hour” will both benefit the local shelter.

The Yappy Hour is new this year. Irish Eyes will be offering a bevy of specialty drinks and foods on Friday night, Feb. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.  in the enclosed porch area and pets and their owners are welcome to come by.

It’s a chance to sample a “Mutt-tini”, “Cat-atonic” or “Bark-tini” while enjoying a view of the waterfront. There will also be a 50/50 at the Yappy Hour, which is designed for pets and their people “who like to yap.”

In addition to the dogs, cats and other feathered, furry or scaly friends, there will also be plenty of special business discounts and offerings to help shake off that February cabin fever.

“Come to Lewes to celebrate the holiday,”  Reamer said.

For more information about the event, contact the Lewes Chamber of Commerce at 302-645-8073.

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