May the ‘Bark’ be with you

Photos provided St. Clairsville is holding its Bark in the Park dog costume contest this October. All are welcome, with vendor fees benefiting the county animal shelter.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Halloween season is not just for people anymore.

A number of folks will dress their furry, four-footed friends as chilling or peculiar characters for St. Clairsville’s Bark in the Park this Oct. 7 at the recreation center and amphitheater. Recreation Director Lindsay Piccolini said the event will benefit the Belmont County Animal Shelter.

“It’s from 1-4 p.m. and it’s a dog costume contest, and every year we partner with the animal shelter as well, so they’ll be there and they’re accepting donations and they’ll hopefully submit a few dogs as well. It’s open to the public,” she said.

Piccolini said the vendors will support the shelter.

“In lieu of actual fees we asked anybody who wants to be a vendor to make a donation to the shelter. With the winter months upcoming, we know they could use some extra supplies,” she added, noting that if anybody in the general public or any of the participants want to bring donations as well, gently used items, dog beds, bags of unopened dog food and treats are needed.

She added that interested pet owners can sign up online or show up the day of the contest. There is an entry fee.

“Any funds for any of our dog events are going toward a hopeful dog park in the future,” she said.

Piccolini said this is the third year for the event, which has grown annually.

“This has grown every year. We’re only a few years in,” she said. “We usually have a decent amount of people. … Last year I’d say we had around 30-35 or so (dogs). It really depends.

The small dog category’s really competitive. A lot of people enter. I’d say we probably have 15 or so.”

She said organizers have added another category this year for pint-sized dogs weighing 15 pounds or less. The small category is for dogs weighing 16-30 pounds. Medium is for dogs weighing 31-79 pounds, and large dogs weigh 80 pounds or more.

“That way, more dogs have an opportunity to get an award,” she said. “The small dogs is a great category. There’s a lot of great costumes, and we didn’t get to award any just because there are so many dogs.”

She added that each category will have several awards. Best-in-show awards will be given for each, as well as an overall best-in-show. Awards also are given for creativity, for the scariest costume, for best combination dog/owner costumes, originality, cutest costume and crowd favorites.

Past costumes included Star Wars-themed outfits, Dr. Seuss themes, cheerleaders and bumblebees.

“We’re working on getting a photographer there as well. That way people can get nice pictures of their dogs if they want,” Piccolini said.

Five community members will act as judges.

For more information, call the recreation center at 740-695-2037 or visit the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce website. People are asked to register by Oct. 2.