Dog Days of Summer: Farmers market celebrates furry friends
Every dog had its day at the Eureka Springs Farmers Market’s Dog Days of Summer event.
The Eureka Springs Krewe of Barkus, a free group where dogs and their humans come together to have fun, partnered with the farmers market to host the event, which invited people and their canine companions to take part in a doggie contest with categories for cutest small, medium and large dog, best trick, best-dressed dog and best dog/owner lookalike.
The Cutest Dog was split into three divisions: Cutest Small Dog for dogs under 20 pounds, Cutest Medium Dog for dogs between 20 and 40 pounds and Cutest Large Dog for dogs over 40 pounds.
The winners of Cutest Small Dog were Hercules and owner Luis “Doc” Contreras in first place, Precious and owner Maria Girard in second place and Sherman and owner Rod Birkmann in third place. The winners of Cutest Medium Dog were Samstone and owner Tony Willmuth in first place, Pepper and owner Kit Shepperd in second place and Bear and owner Steve Girard in third place. The winners of Cutest Large Dog were Coco and owner Valerie Damon in first place, Summit and owner Jeff Joseph in second place and Ivey and owner Donna Joseph in third place.
The winners of Best Trick were Short Cut and owner Lorna Trigg in first place, Hercules and owner Luis “Doc” Contreras in second place and Summit and owner Jeff Joseph in third place.
The winners of Best Dressed Dog were Sherman and owner Rod Birkmann in first place, Coco and owner Valerie Damon in second place and Hercules and owner Luis “Doc” Contreras in third place.
The winners of the Dog and Owner Lookalike contest were Bear and owner Steve Girard in first place, Red and owner Dennis Pappenfus in second place and Fizzy and owner Jason Davis in third place.
Crystal Ursin, captain of the Krewe of Barkus, said farmers market board member Cecila Berry had approached her about hosting a dog show for the many people who bring their dogs to the market.
“I worked with her and coordinated the event. We thought of different prizes and everything, and we put together little goodie baskets,” Ursin said. “We got Blackie’s Backyard to donate treats, and the market donated market cash for the three ‘Best in Show’ prizes. We just wanted a way to get the dog lovers of the area together.”
Berry said she thought it would be a good idea to host a dog show because the farmers market already has great outdoor recreational areas for dogs.
“I said ‘OK, maybe we should have something for the dog owners because we have the dog park here,’ ” she said. “There are a lot of dog owners who come to the market all the time. They are part of the farmers market, so we decided to do this.”
Berry said the farmers market gave the winners market money as prizes, giving them further incentive to return.
“They can spend it at the farmers market. It’s a give and take,” she said.
Trigg said she enjoyed bringing Short Cut to Dog Days and letting him interact with the other dogs.
“What makes him special is that he’s pretty smart and likes to do tricks,” she said. “I was curious to see how he would do with a whole lot of other dogs. We live on a big property, so I don’t take him to the dog park. I wasn’t sure how he was going to do, but he won for best trick.”
Short Cut’s winning trick was jumping through a hoop held by Trigg. She said she named him Short Cut because he always takes the quickest route he can find.
Contreras said he likes bringing Hercules to the farmers market because it helps him get socialized with people and other dogs.
“This is really the heart of Eureka Springs,” he said. “Hercules loves to dance and he’s very friendly, so we try to bring him when we come shopping. We try to come here often because this is where you meet the people who care about Eureka. It’s where the community comes together.”
Steven and Maria Girard brought their posse of pugs, Bowzer, Bear and Precious, to participate in Dog Days. Maria said the dogs are more like children than pets.
“Most people have two-legged children, but we have four-legged children,” she said. “If you’re in a down mood, they can bring you back up, and, if they’re in a down mood or they don’t feel good, we make them feel better. Dogs need loving no matter what.”
Steve said the dogs are exceptionally smart, loving and forgiving.
“I’ve had dogs all my life, and I love all dogs. When we got our first pug, Bowzer, we fell in love with them. They are so smart,” he said. “Bowzer is actually Bear’s dad. We lost the mother two years ago, so we got Precious.”
Steve and Maria said they never travel anywhere without their fur family.
“We travel to bike rallies, and the dogs go with us,” Steve said. “Everyone in the motorcycle world knows us as ‘the pug people.’ ”
Sophia Asmus, who served as a judge for the contest, said she enjoyed getting to score all of the great dogs that turned out for the event.
“It was fun being able to meet more people in the community,” she said. “We come to the farmers market every Tuesday and Thursday because my mom is the manager. This event was fun, and I liked all the dogs. They are all very cute.”