Fashionable dogs will be making an appearance at the first Outdoor Dog Fashion Show at the annual Great Outdoors and Bike Expo set for Feb. 23-24 at the Spokane Convention Center.
The expo has been sponsored by the Out There Outdoors magazine since it began three years ago. Show promoter Derrick Knowles said he got the idea to add a dog fashion show to help attract people to the event.
“There’s so much gear out there for dogs,” he said. “We thought it would be an entertaining way to bring dogs into the event. It’ll definitely be worth some laughs.”
Knowles said he was inspired by the outdoor dog photo contest Out There runs every spring. The contest has been going for five years and is very popular, routinely bringing in more than 50 pictures with dogs in various stunning scenery, Knowles said. It shows just how much people value their dogs and want to involve them in family activities.
“We get a lot of action shots, dogs doing crazy things in the river, running down the trail,” he said. “That really opened our eyes to how important that relationship is.”
The fashion show is set to begin at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the REI Campground, which features live trees, in the center of the expo. The dogs will dress up and trot down the catwalk next to their owners. A panel of judges will pick winners in each of three categories and also pick a Best in Show winner. There are $500 worth of prizes to be awarded.
The categories are best gear, terrific outdoor tricks and owner spirit. The tricks category was added to make the competition more interactive, Knowles said. “Maybe their dog is a total riot but doesn’t have any gear,” he said.
Owners are encouraged to add a little gear of their own for the owner spirit category. People are encouraged to have fun with it.
Dogs must be vaccinated and on a leash in order to participate. Only dogs entered into the show are allowed to attend the expo, though service dogs are welcome. The show will be limited to the first 20 dogs to enter.
“It’s filling up quickly,” he said.
People can visit the website at www.spokaneoutdoorexpo.com to download a dog fashion show entry form. The form must be dropped off at the SouthCare Animal Medical Center or at any Prairie Dog Mercantile or Urban Canine location by Feb. 21. The cost is $15, which includes admission to the expo.
Those who would rather watch the show can pay $12 admission at the door or $8 in advance on the website. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free.
“We hope people come for that,” Knowles said. “Every year we add new activities.”
The expo features a ton more activities for outdoor enthusiasts. People can try out the latest bikes (indoors), including new electric assist bikes. There are free clinics on fixing a bike flat, backcountry water filtration, campfire cooking and how to use a hammock.
Information about local trails, public lands, wildlife and recreation issues will be available from experts at a variety of booths. The Dishman Hills Conservancy will benefit from a happy hour and silent auction from 3:40 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 23.
There are also plenty of things for kids to do, including games, a climbing wall, crafts, finding fossils in rocks, educational displays, archery and crosscut log sawing.
There’s even a chance for people to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. “That was super popular last year,” Knowles said.
As an added bonus, those who buy a ticket to the expo will also get admission to the Spokane Golf Show, which is happening on the same dates at the same location as the Outdoor and Bike Expo.
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