12 May 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
Last Saturday FOTAS held its 4th Annual Woofstock Dog, Cat & Music Festival at the Aiken County Animal Shelter. It was all we hoped it would be and more.
The weather was perfect. Puffy white clouds drifted across a bright blue sky. The cool temperatures of the morning gave way to a comfortable 80 degrees by the afternoon. It was one of those sparkling spring days that inspires joy in the soul.
The day started early for FOTAS volunteers and Woofstock organizers. Caroline Simonson, Shana Ryberg and a group of volunteers arrived at the shelter at 7:30 to walk the adoptable dogs. Anthony Negron and 32 Aiken High School NJROTC students and 8 South Aiken Serteens began the arduous task of setting up for the exhibitors and volunteers. Donna Eisenhart and 20 Silver Bluff National Honor Society students were on hand to work with vendors and exhibitors. All 60 of these local teenagers dedicated their day to set-up, take-down, traffic control, walking dogs and helping out with anything that needed doing.
“I am touched by the commitment of all these young men and women,” says Valerie Vance-Kraus, the faculty advisor to the Serteens. “They are the best this generation has to offer.”
This year, the number and variation of exhibitors were greater than in years past. There was everything from representatives from the Sheriff’s K9 unit with their bloodhound and bomb-sniffing dog to face-painting and balloon creations to canine agility courses. We were thrilled to be joined by our sister agency, the SPCA Albrecht Center, who not only helped sponsor the event, but exhibited as well.
(A special shout out to the ever-so-kind SPCA trainer-extraordinaire Ann Kinney, for working with Dante and Toni Urben, his foster mom, on socialization in a crowded place with lots of action. Yes, that’s Dante the handsome gray and white “pibble” – he needs a home – desperately. Will someone please take this very special dog home so we can sleep at night?)
There were homemade baked goods and ice cream and barbeque sandwiches. There was music provided by Brad and Jayne Williams. There were local dignitaries and celebrities – County Administrator Clay Killian, County Council Chairman Ronnie Young, along with County Council members Kathy Rawls and Andrew Siders, Ellen Priest, the publisher of the Aiken Standard, and Nicole Smith, an NBC26 news anchor, to name a few. There were dog contests for the best kisser, the best costume, and the best tricks.
And of course, there was the first ever Doxie Derby run at Woofstock, organized by FOTAS volunteer Carole Stamm, which was nothing short of spectacular and hilarious and just plain laugh-out-loud fun. One participant came from as far as North Carolina and vowed to come back again next year to compete with Aiken’s finest wiener dogs.
By every measure, the fourth Woofstock Festival was a resounding success with community participation at every conceivable level – exhibitors, sponsors, elected officials, volunteers, veterinarians, trainers, media and local businesses. The festival was packed with families, couples, seniors, and kids of all ages from all over the County. Plus, 10 dogs and 7 cats left the shelter for their forever homes.
That’s what it’s all about: an entire community coming together to help homeless animals. For those of us at FOTAS, it’s a dream come true.
God bless and thank you.