JOPLIN, Mo. —
A handler walks his dog on to a dock, a 40’ runway set up over a crsip, clean pool. The dog, spry and anxiously wagging its tail, follows its owner’s commands: It waits for the handler’s signal, then shoots off for a splash in the pool waiting at the end of the dock. The handler throws a toy into the air as his canine friend jumps in.
The organizers of the dog-based event originally planned to showcase only these skilled, acrobatic animals featured in Dock Dogs, a canine aquatics competition.
But then Tiffany got booked. And Tony Lucca, fresh from NBC’s “The Voice.”
Dogs in Downtown began as a small-scale project, said Matt Osborn, of Way Beyond Events. But it continued to grow and turned into a two-day event.
Organizers were forced to move the event, originally scheduled for downtown Main Street, to Landreth Park to accomodate the 100-by-100-foot pool for the Dock Dogs.
“(The project) morphed into a huge thing,” Osborn said. “We knew we wanted to bring the Dock Dogs, and it started growing.”
He started booking local musicians for entertainment, but then got a call from a contact who asked him if he’d like to include ’80s singer Tiffany.
From there, Dogs in Downtown received support from people who wanted to be involved and other local media that signed on with the project. Eventually, the organizers received a commnity grant for it, he said.
Osborn attributed the event’s rapid growth to his team’s constant feed on the energy around them.
“When we got wind of things being cancelled in the area, new ideas came together,” he said.
The team took on challenges, such as booking Lucca, who snuck in as a last-minute addition to the lineup and confirmed his appearance just two weeks prior, Osborn said.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the proposed Parr Hill Dog Park project.
The dogs compete in different categories ranging from big air to extreme vertical, speed retrieve and iron dog, said Grant Reeves, CEO of Dock Dogs. Big air is a long jump for dogs and extreme vertical tests a dog’s ability to jump high into the air. Speed retrieve is all about time and agility and iron dog combines all the categories into one for a test to see which animal really is top dog.
The public is invited to not only come and watch the dogs jump anywhere from 3 to 29 feet into a pool, but are allowed to let their own dogs try the jumps as well, Reeves said.
A 10-foot splash zone will be set up around the pool for kids to have fun with catch a splash from the dogs, Osborn said.
“It’s the most fun you’ll have with your dog,” Reeves said. “The crowd goes wild with the dogs flying through the air.”
Osborn, a dog owner, and co-owner of Way Beyond Events, said he thought Joplin should have more events catered toward dogs and their handlers. The event features other activites, including:
Live music, featuring both local and national recording artists will entertain dog-lovers tonight and tomorrow night beginning at 6. Local bands Story of a Ghost, Third Party and Last Chance Casanova will take the stage tonight, and national recording artist, Tiffany, best known for her remake of “I Think We’re Alone Now” will headline for the evening. She will perform her ‘80s set tonight, Osborn said.
Saturday’s concert lineup will include a second appearnce by Tiffany, who will perform music from her country album, “Rose Tattoo.” Other musicians featured include Tony Lucca, a contestant from NBC’s “The Voice,” and Kaleb McIntire.
- The Mutt Strut 1K will begin 9 a.m. Saturday at Landreth Park. Dog owners can register online at Way Beyond Event’s Web site or at 8 a.m. in the park to walk their dogs.
- Anyone who does not have a dog, but would like to walk one, can register to walk a dog from the Joplin Humane Society, Osborn said.
- Inflatables, face painting, a petting zoo and other misellaneous activities will be available for children.
- A vendor marketplace, including commercial vendors and arts and crafts, will be setup for anyone to peruse.
- Show and Shine, a car and bike show, will be setup during the event.
- Pet performances, acoustic bands and other miscellaneous activities will take place on a small stage in the park, Osborn said.