It was a dog’s life at the 9th Annual “Weiner Takes All” Dachshund Races held during Bella Vista’s Hay Days on Saturday (Sept. 19). More than 40 dachshunds, grouped by age, ran in qualifying races, with the winners competing in the final race.
Tahoe, owned by Chris and Clayton Bradford, won the grand championship, taking home a trophy, fresh flowers and other doggie-pleasing prizes.
In the opening parade before the races, Cocoa Bean, who was crowned “queen of the Weiners,” and Jaxson, who was crowned “king of the Weiners,” rode together in a flower-draped float. They won the honor because their owners, Sue Brown and Jennifer Mueller, respectively, brought in the most donations for the animal shelter. Both dachshunds received a plush dog bed and a sterling silver engraved tag.
A doggy costume contest, musical sit contest, a Weiner-wanna-be race and a parade of shelter dogs available for adoption rounded out the morning’s activities. Mayor Peter Christy also read a proclamation declaring the day, “Weiner Takes All Day” in Bella Vista.
Organizers hoped to raise $9,000 for the Bella Vista Animal Shelter from the entry fees, donations and sponsorships. West Termite and Pest Management was the presenting sponsor of the event. The money raised will be used for care for the animals. Diedre Matney, executive director of the Bella Vista Animal Shelter, said the event was the brain child of past board president Ron Kolokowski many years ago and has grown to be an anticipated event.
“I have people start calling me in March, wanting to know when the Wienie Races are,” Matney said. “It’s just a great fundraiser for us and it brings a lot of public awareness to the animal shelter. People really enjoy it.”
Matney said the animal shelter takes in over 900 animals annually, primarily out of the Bella Vista area.
“We do assist some other cities like Gravette, Decatur, and Gentry, who do not have animal shelters. They just have pounds,” Matney said. “We do take some animals from them when they have them slated for euthanasia. We know we can find them good homes.”
Matney said they adopt animals out to homes all over Northwest Arkansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, and even as far away as New York. According to the Shelter’s website, their euthanasia rate is at 4%, much lower than the national average of 61%. Since it’s beginning in 1985, the shelter has taken in a wide variety of animals, ranging from dragon lizards to goats to rabbits to exotic birds, Matney said.
“We had a parrot one time that was found sitting on a mailbox in the Highlands in December and it was very cold,” she said. “It was caught by the people who work for Vacation Rentals at one of their rental properties. They brought it in to us and we were able to re-home it.”
Kitty Casanova, committee member of the Bella Vista Hay Days, said the Weiner races are a great addition to the festival.
“They bring 1,000 to 1,500 people in. People come from Texas, from Tennessee with their Weiner dogs,” she said.
In addition to the Weiner races, other activities at Hay Days included a motorcycle and car show, petting zoo, pony rides, face painting, inflatables, train ride and live music. Guests at the festival could also inspect emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance and the Mercy hospital helicopter. On Saturday afternoon, local high school bands competed for cash prizes in a Battle of the Bands.
Organizers of the festival expected at least 7,000 people to attend the Friday and Saturday Hay Days festival.
“It’s a chance for parents to come out with their kids, or grandparents to come out with their grandkids, and have a really fun, busy day without spending a lot of money,” Casanova said.