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After having the best time at last year’s event, this weekend we returned to DogFest for a fun-filled day out to celebrate all things canine. Set against the backdrop of Cheshire’s stunning Tatton Park, dog owners enjoyed two days of thrilling dog action from June 17-18.
First held in 2014, DogFest is a pet-centric event that was created by dog lovers, for dog lovers. Each year the touring festival has grown bigger and better, and is now held at seven of the UK’s most gorgeous stately homes and gardens throughout the summer months and into September. Consider it Glastonbury for dogs, with a jam-packed schedule of activities and events to get involved in.
This year, we had kept a super close eye on the weather. It had given it out to be hot and sunny, and in which case we’d have headed up as early as possible, and come home before it got too warm, but on the day it was overcast and cool with a couple of sunny spells, so we arrived at 10.30am and spent around five hours exploring the festival before Phoebe decided she’d had enough. DogFest are really good at assessing the weather and has been evaluating the situation in the lead up to the event, on the day offering additional water points, shaded spots, and of course, had canine first aid on site.
We started our day by tackling the retail stalls, where we were absolutely spoilt for choice. The event was packed with over 100 stallholders offering a huge selection of dog related brands, products and services. Phoebe and Frank were able to stock up on their favourite treats, dragging us over to the W’Zis stand, while we were also able to catch up with some of the lovely brands we’ve worked with over the last three years, including the team at Scoff Paper. We grabbed some natural treats from the huge JR Pet Products stall, eyed up which Tug-e-Nuff toy they want next, and enjoyed all of the fun photo opportunities set out by the brands at each of their stalls.
We finished our loop at The Dog Bowl Deli, where I bought the Scamps a Dogfest 2023 biscuit, and two ultimate puppuccinos at a cost of £3 each. The bakery topped their whipped cream bowls with crushed dog treats, freeze dried raspberries, pet friendly sprinkles, a carob mouse and a large sausage, really going all-out for the extravagant occasion.
All the shopping did make for hungry work, so we headed to the hospitality section at the top of the field where there was a huge range of food vendors offering everything from burgers, hotdogs and gyros, to noodles, pizza and fish and chips. We ordered a pepperoni pizza for £14 and it really was one of the best takeaway pizzas we’ve had at a festival, and then polished off a crepe with lemon and sugar for £7 before carrying on with all the fun of the festival.
We went on to watch Chloe Fuller and the Super Spaniels, as well as the fantastic West Lancs Dog Display Team in the Action Arena, demonstrating their unique talents and agilty skills. Throughout the day, there are so many world-class displays from top canine athletes as well as talks and demonstrations from leading experts and free advice and workshops in the behaviour zone, allowing owners to gain valuable insights into keeping their furry pals happy and healthy.
We gave the Fun Dog Show a miss this year – it’s practically impossible to cram everything into one day – so we’ll enter that again next year, but we did get in on the action with the Have a Go activities. We had really wanted to watch the Flyball demonstrations but we were leaving before it began, so instead we let Phoebe and Frank try it out for themselves. We were a little apprehensive about letting Phoebe and Frank off their leads in the Flyball area, but they were as good as gold and gave it their best shot. They mostly enjoyed running up and down the hurdles, not quite grasping they needed to retrieve the ball, but they enjoyed themselves none the less.
I never thought we would be able to let Phoebe and Frank do something like this in such a busy setting, but it really gave us a lot of confidence and made me so proud of how far they’ve both come in terms of their nerves. Next year, we’d love to try out the Hay Bale Race and K9 Dog Diving pool, especially after the Scamps’ dabble in hydrotherapy.
We explored the Dogs Trust village where there were sniffaris, virtual tours and fundraising activities, as well as a ManyPets area where you could dive into the pink ball pit and spin the wheel to win a prize. ManyPets – who sponsor the event – kindly invited us to this years’ DogFest, so we didn’t want to miss the chance to explore their section, winning a tote bag and dog shampoo on their stands.
Before we headed home, we made sure to get a photo at the DogFest sign, which is cleverly constructed from artificial grass. Phoebe and Frank were totally worn out from all of the sights, sounds and smells, having met up with friends like Huey the Staffy, and made new buddies – including a four-month-old lab puppy that Frank was besotted with. Next year we’d really like to head on the Big Dog Walk, as well as attend the breed meet up, which are two things we’ve missed out on both years now. There’s simply so much to see and do at DogFest, the fact you can’t do it all in a day gives you a good excuse to get tickets for the following year, anyway.
DogFest is one of our favourite annual events, not only offering top-class entertainment and education, but provides owners the chance to meet other members of the DogFest community, share stories, take pictures and maybe even arrange to meet some local dog owners for a play date. It was amazing to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together with their beloved pets, and to see so many different breeds of all shapes and sizes be welcomed and catered for, fostering a sense of community among guests.
DogFest is an absolute must for all dog lovers out there – mark it on your calendar next year; you won’t want to miss this bark-tastic extravaganza. The 2023 festival continues in Bristol, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire later this year. You can find out more about the event on the DogFest website here.