The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 15, 2012

Two-day event features Tiffany, Tony Lucca alongside acrobatic animals

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.  

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