By Karen Hall
A new event with an ambitious goal is coming to Rock Creek Park next month.
Bark in the Park will take place all day Saturday, April 21.
About two dozen people, and several dogs, attended a planning meeting in the Farmers Market pavilion Tuesday, but organization has been going on behind the scenes for some time.
"I've been working on this thing for two months," said Susan Ragsdale, who acted as chairman of the meeting. She is a board member of Promoting Animal Welfare in the South Now, along with Kendall Sanders, Tisha Poling, Janet Harris, and Ken Todd.
"The five musketeers," joked Ragsdale.
Bark in the Park's goal is to raise the money needed to complete renovations to the Animal Shelter.
"If we could raise $5,000, we could start," said Ragsdale. Once the shelter is renovated, they can apply for grant money to assist with animal control and animal welfare in the community. In the future, this may include a low-cost spay-neuter program.
"This is going to get us some recognition," Ragsdale said. She went on to explain that Bark in the Park will include food vendors, informational booths for businesses and political candidates, and sales booths for arts and crafts. Certainly there will be an opportunity to get your pet's portrait made, either as a photograph or as a drawing.
PAWS Now is a 501(c)(3) charity, so all contributions are tax deductible.
There will be activities for children, including face painting, a petting zoo, a bouncy house or a slide, and, hopefully, a rock wall.
"I'd love to get the kids involved," said Ragsdale. "They're our tomorrow."
On the serious side, there will be seminars and demonstrations, all relating to dogs. Dr. Tresha Grisson has promised to do a seminar, and also hold a reduced-rate microchip clinic.
A Silent Auction is expected to be a big fund-raiser.
The 2012 PAWS Now Dog of the Year Award will be presented to Roscoe Dalton.
Radio Shack will be there selling weather radios at a discounted price, and programming them for the buyer's location.
There will be Shelter dogs, and dogs to adopt, as well as a parade of dogs previously adopted from the Shelter. For adopted dogs who can't attend, there will be "The Wall of Happy Tails" the display their pictures and stories. Rescues that have helped PAWS Now and LASA (Lewisburg Animal Shelter Adoptions) to move dogs will be offered free booth space.
Vendors will be open at 9 a.m., and the day's activities will kick off with a pet costume contest at 9:30 a.m. to take advantage of cooler morning temperatures on what is hoped to be a lovely warm spring day. (In case of really bad weather, the rain date for Bark in the Park is April 28.)
Ragsdale was very appreciative of the number of people who showed up for the meeting, and asked them to divide up the lists and all help out contacting vendors and asking for silent auction donations.
She'd like a band - preferably a local one - to play from 3 to 4 p.m. as the event winds down.
A competition to design the Bark in the Park T-shirt is already underway in Marshall County Schools, and Ragsdale said sponsors would be recognized by having their names on the back of the shirts, as well as on a banner to be displayed on the day.
"Y'all have no idea what this means to me," said Ragsdale, a lifelong resident of Marshall County. "We're going to get that Shelter done."
For more information, please visit www.pawsnow.yolasite.com. To volunteer or donate call Ragsdale at 931-246-0916. She'll be glad to hear from you, and remember, it's all tax deductible.