By ROXANN MILLER
7:29 PM EDT, June 2, 2012
You’d think strawberries would take center stage at a festival named in their honor, but Saturday’s 20th Annual Strawberry Fest literally went to the dogs.
For at least two hours of the festival at Lions Community Park in Mercersburg, all eyes were transfixed on the “Westminster Kennel Club-esque” ring of the Fun Dog Show.
Master of Ceremonies Thomas B. Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, kept the crowd entertained with his doggy quips.
“That dog is so small it has to jump over grass,” Riford said about one tiny pooch.
Riford's humor wasn't lost on the six judges, who included Rep. Todd Rock; Mercersburg Police Chief John Zechman; Mercersburg Borough Council Vice-President John Freeland; Tuscarora school board member Chris Ardinger; Julie Statler, chief financial officer of First National Bank of Mercersburg; and Mercersburg Elementary School Principal Lura Hanks.
About 30 owners and their dogs entered 10 competitions, including the prettiest, best groomed, most obedient, hot-dog bobbing, best behind, best dressed, most laid back, best talker, best kisser and best trick.
When Leigh Irwin of Mercersburg walked to the Strawberry Fest with her family she didn’t even think about entering Ricochet, the family’s Jack Russell terrier.
“We came down without him, and I said, ‘We have to go get him.’ So we went back home to get him so he could enter the dog show,” Irwin said.
It’s a good thing she did because Ricochet walked away with Best of Show.
“It’s fun. It’s something to do outside, and it’s a little fresh air for the kids and exercise,” Irwin said.
Caden Ficks, 12, of Mercersburg brought both of his best buddies, Cricket, a rat terrier, and Foxy, a beagle and rat-terrier mix.
Foxy won the hot-dog bobbing contest, and Cricket was the pooch with the best smooch.
“I like entering because it’s a fun experience,” Caden said.
He said he was certain his dogs liked entering just by the way they wagged their tails.
The dog show benefited the Leader Dog School for the Blind and the Beacon Lodge Camp for the Blind.
Linda Beckwith, president of the Buchanan Lioness Club, said the dog show really draws a crowd to the Strawberry Fest.
“The real coming of summer is signaled by the strawberry crop in this area,” Lioness member Rachel Nichols said.
The Buchanan Lioness Club is one of the oldest Lioness clubs in the state that is still active. It was formed in 1990, Beckwith said.
Although it was a Buchanan Lioness event, it was held at the Lions Community Park and the Lions’ kitchen, so they were in charge of the chicken, Beckwith said.
The Lions cooked 360 halves of chicken for $5.50 a half or $6.50 a dinner to benefit the Lions Club, while the Lioness Club focused on strawberry sundaes and strawberry shortcake.
The Lioness Club prepared more than 100 quarts of strawberries, 240 cakes and 15, 4-quart buckets of vanilla ice cream for the day.
Money raised during Strawberry Fest benefits the Lions and Lioness clubs’ programs.
Dog Show Winners
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