ELKHART — A warm, sunny day, wide open fields and miles of walking trails made Saturday, Oct. 12, a pretty good day for dogs at Ox Bow Park.
Elkhart County Parks’ annual Bark in the Park event was held Saturday, drawing dog lovers from throughout the county.
“We got a nice little crowd out here,” said Jerry Good, Elkhart County Parks’ marketing coordinator. “These dogs are just having a real good time and that’s really what it’s all about today.”
Good said that approximately 90 people participated in the morning’s walk between two groups, a number that’s comparable to what they’ve had in the past.
Besides the walk, Bark in the Park featured various pet supply vendors, a demonstration from the Elkhart Police Department’s K-9 Patrol unit, a disc dog demonstration and tents for the county’s dog rescue agencies.
Elkhart residents Sharon Knepp and Jeanne Kerns, who attended the day’s festivities with Zoe, a black lab mix, said they participate in quite a few organized dog walks.
Knepp had participated in Bark in the Park before, but Saturday was Kerns’ first time at the event.
They appreciated the connections they could make with other dog lovers and the opportunity it gave Zoe to mingle as well.
“It’s a social thing for dogs and us,” Kerns said.
Good echoed that sentiment, saying “What’s kind of cool is that not only are the dogs socializing, but everyone out here are dog people and so what happens is the people start to socialize.”
Still, there’s a larger reason behind Bark in the Park.
“We’re trying to help out some of the rescues we have here in the area,” Good said. “Our main emphasis with this is really to support these rescues.”
“What these (rescues) do is they find good homes for good dogs,” he continued. “This event is really an opportunity for us to support them because we believe in what they’re doing in the community.”
Good said the funds raised by the event are less important than the awareness Bark in the Park provides.
“Money’s great; they all need money,” Good said. “But awareness is sometimes priceless because then it comes back ten-fold on you.”