Dogs were on parade at Maryland DogFest

LA PLATA, MD -- It was a dog’s day out at the fifth annual Maryland DogFest.

Held at the Charles County Fair Grounds on May 14 and 15, the event featured live four-legged entertainment, same day adoptions, and vendors for every dog need, said Nick Simonds, Maryland DogFest coordinator.

“I’ve been involved in event coordinating for a while now and I always wanted to do something that was fun and family focused. And when I say family, I include dogs. Not just the human family, but the whole family,” said Simonds.  “Each dog fits a family in a different way. So a family could be one person and their dog.”

With three dogs of his own, Simonds wouldn’t select a favorite dog breed. 

“I have a German Shepard, a rat terrier, and a mutt.  And I don’t necessarily have a favorite breed, but I do think that mutts are some of the coolest dogs,” said Simonds. “At DogFest, I’ve seen dogs that that I have never see before and don’t know their breed. And that’s the cool thing because there are so many different kinds. Big, small, or scary looking or nice looking. It’s like a parade of every different kind of dog that you can imagine.”

Live entertainment included some that the four legged event goers could participate in, said Simonds. 

“We had the Jersey Disc Devils and Mutts gone Nutts perform. And a dog acupuncture demonstration at the main stage,” said Simonds. “We also had a talent show, a fashion show, a costume contest, and a dog and owner look-a-like contest.”

There was also an agility course with no timing, judges, or pressure that anyone could try their paws at, as well as separate areas for weight pulling and lure chasing, said Simonds.

“Free Paw Pawing was also provided at the Adoption Zone building, and there was a demo area set up for event goers to watch working dogs in action, as presented by the Applejack International K-9 Academy,” said Simonds.

While the entertainment at the DogFest was great, nonprofit rescues and shelters also participated in the event to inform the community and adopt out dogs, said Simonds.

“We try to encourage adoption as the first option when considering a dog," said Simonds. "One of the organizations actually ran out of dogs to adopt out on Saturday and they had to drive to Virginia to bring back more dogs to adopt out on Sunday."

Maryland DogFest is Simonds’ way of giving back to the community.

“While this kind of event can be a source of entertainment, we try to use this event  as a platform to try to help dogs as well. Other similar events across the country will charge nonprofits the same as their vendors, it’s just something we do a little bit differently,” said Simonds.

The majority of the event planning was on Simonds’ shoulders.

“It’s a lot of hats to wear, and with the amount of large scale events that I have put together, I follow a formula and stick to it. It’s just me and I have help with the social media, website, and graphics part of the event planning,” said Simonds. “I call on my friends and family during the event, you know, all hands on deck, and they help everything run smoothly.”

His favorite part of the event is watching people and dogs meet and greet, said Simonds.

“My favorite part of the DogFest was seeing the dogs interact with each other and the people getting together. With all the entertainment, which I love, and the adoptions, which are so important, the coolest part is seeing the socialization of all the different breeds of dogs. You can see that the DogFest was a dog’s day out,” said Simonds.

Check out this link for the complete list of vendors that attended the event, and this link for the complete list of shelters and rescues. 

Jacqui Atkielski can be contacted at

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