People and pups, grab your leashes: It’s almost time to trek over to Windermere for a day of pet-friendly fun.
The third annual Windermere PetFest takes place Saturday, March 9, in downtown Windermere. Designed to bring out the pet lover in everyone and offer a fun day out with your best four-legged friend, PetFest is sponsored by the Animal Clinic of Windermere and hosted by the Windermere Parks and Recreation committee.
The inaugural event in 2017 drew between 1,000 and 1,500 attendees, estimated Parks and Recreation Chair Nora Brophy. Last year, the estimated attendance was about 3,000, she said, and it continues to grow each year.
“The Animal Clinic of Windermere originally brought the idea to us and said they would love to sponsor a pet event,” Brophy said. “The committee talked about it and thought it sounded like a great idea; I’m a pet lover myself. We decided to go ahead with it and got started doing it. The first year was much smaller, but it’s grown a lot. It’s a really fun event.”
Brophy said there will be about 60 vendors at this year’s event, as well as five rescue groups, including Candy’s Cats, mastiff and greyhound rescues and The Pixel Fund. Vendors include dog trainers, groomers and crafters who sell pet clothing and collars.
New this year is a raffle, in which PetFest attendees can buy raffle tickets and enter to win various prizes from the vendors. There will be a dog bowl at each booth, Brophy said, and guests can choose items for which they want to enter.
“The idea was brought up to me by one of our vendors, so every vendor will have something to raffle off, and they’re all very different,” she said. “Each one will raffle off something … (guests) can see what every vendor is raffling off. We will distribute the profits from the raffle to the rescue groups that are there. We have five rescue groups there this year and will split the profits and give it back to the rescue groups.”
The Parks and Recreation committee is going to distribute free bandannas for pets, and police officers from Ocoee and Winter Garden will provide K-9 demonstrations throughout the day. Dogs and their people can try a small agility course in the Doggie Fun Zone, take photos in the Animal Clinic of Windermere’s “Magic Mirror Photo Booth,” enjoy live music and grab a bite to eat at one of the food trucks on hand. Musical chairs, bone-and-spoon races and a peanut butter-eating contest also are on the agenda.
“(People) can expect a really great day with or without their dogs,” Brophy said. “If they bring their dogs, I think they’ll both have a good time. Dogs really seem to enjoy the Doggie Fun Zone and games — they like being the center of attention. If you don’t have a dog, it’s fun, because there are so many vendors that have great products, and you can watch all the dogs. … I just enjoy watching all the people and their dogs have a good time.”
Whether you plan to bring your furry best friend or just go to enjoy the pets and their people, PetFest is a fun experience for any pet lover, Brophy said.
“Windermere is a wonderful town to live in, and it’s a really pet-friendly town,” she said. “It’s a really fun event for our residents and people in the area. For the Parks and Recreation committee, our mandate is to make our parks fun and functional. We like to put on events that are enjoyable for people.”