A North Carolina pooch recently traveled all the way to Petaluma, California to find fame.
Peanut, owned by Holly Chandler of Greenville, North Carolina, won the World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The little dog was rescued as a pup from a Washington , D.C. animal shelter after having been abused and severely injured.
The contest is recognized internationally and has been held for more than 25 years, said Sarah Cummings, CEO of the Sonoma-Marin Fair. Twenty-nine potentially ugly dogs showed up at the contest from all over the country, she said.
The owners of the doggie contestants are all kinds of people, said Cummings, from youngsters to senior citizens, each of them proud of their pet despite missing fur, crossed eyes, duck waddles or mismatched ears. The owners proudly walk both pedigreed pooches and "Heinz 57" mutts down the red carpet to the cheers and clapping of the crowds.
Prior to arriving for the contest, all the dogs must provide a veterinarian's certificate assuring that they are healthy. The World's Ugliest Dog Contest follows up with a vet check on site just prior to the contest. The Sonoma Humane Society is also on site with information showcasing adoptable pets.
Like Peanut, many of the doggie contestants have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills, and the contest has done much to raise awareness for adoption of dogs, and that no matter their physical detractions, these animals are loving companions.
And the dogs certainly seem to enjoy the adoration of the fans. One of the most popular features of the contest is the Beauty and the Beast Walk featuring Miss Sonoma County royalty walking adoptable pets from the Sonoma Humane Society, Rohnert Park Rescue and Noah's Bark.
Peanut had been in a shelter for nine months before he was adopted. Chandler, his owner, said she entered the contest to raise awareness for animal rescue. She plans to use the $1,500 prize to pay for other animals' veterinary bills.
Peanut had been stuck in the shelter for months before Chandler fell in love and adopted him. He's a 2-year-old mutt whose wild white and brown hair, bulging eyes and protruding teeth belie his sweet, energetic personality, a press release said. His teeth protrude because his lips were burned when he was abused.
Peanut's owner said she wants to use her dog to raise awareness about animal abuse. Runners-up in the contest were Quasi Modo, and Scamp, third place. Sweetie Rambo won the ugliest pedigree contest with Zoomer and Yoda in second and third place.
The Sonoma-Marin Fair is operated and owned by the 4th District Agricultural Association, said Cummings. The organization is governed by a board of directors from the community it serves.
The Sonoma-Marin 65-acre fairgrounds is located between Sonoma County and Marin County and takes its name from both counties it serves, said Cummings. Both Sonoma and Marin have their own individual fairs as well, she said, Marin in July and Sonoma in August.
More than 65,000 people attended the 2014 fair, held from June 18 through June 22, said Cummings. That's an increase of 8 and one-half percent over any previous year, she said. The five-day fair celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, and there were displays and exhibits throughout the fair to celebrate the years since the fair first started in 1939.
The emphasis of the fair since the very beginning has been on agriculture, said Cummings, fair CEO since last February. She was CEO of the Sonoma Fair for three years before she joined the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The agricultural emphasis continued in fine tradition this year, she said. Of special interest were the dairy replenishment exhibit and the heifer auction.
"The Sonoma-Marin Fair promotes and showcases agriculture, while displaying the diverse talents, interests and accomplishments of the citizens of California, especially the youth of Sonoma and Marin counties," according to the fair's website. "This is achieved by providing education, entertainment and recreational opportunities for the general public, while continually striving towards enhancing the promotion and preservation of California's agricultural heritage."
Sonoma-Marin youth had the opportunity to present the animals they've raised all year and got the chance to win the more than $37,000 in premium and prize money the fair awards each year to support youth in agriculture.
Of those attending the fair, 38 percent are estimated to be over 13 years old; 24 percent are children 12 and under; 2 percent are senior citizens. The fair-goers enjoy family and spectacular carnival rides, a separate section of fun and colorful kiddie carnival rides, headliner entertainment nightly, livestock exhibits, home and fine arts exhibits, wine tasting of award-winning wines from the North of the Gate Wine Competition, the ugly dog competition, a talent show and much more, the website said.
Admission to the fair was $15, and the admission covered the price of almost everything but food – free concerts, free carnival rides. In addition to the Ugliest Dog Contest, there was entertainment galore. Cummings said there were several main acts this year.
On June 18, Eddie Money rocked the house with his personal brand of rock and roll. Eddie (Mahoney) Money came onto the scene in 1977 and fans immediately went crazy for his sound. His first album went double platinum. The album featured hits like Baby Hold On and Two Tickets to Paradise.
Brett Eldredge played on Thursday, June 19. On June 20, Credence Clearwater Revisited took the stage. Saturday, June 21, was time for Uncle Kracker, an act that has had several top 10 hits.
Fiesta Latino led the way for the Latino fans, followed by La Sonora Santanera and La Marka de Tierra Calienta.
If you weren't watching the shows and enjoying the music, you could wander the barns on the fairgrounds and follow the self-guided tour of the livestock walk to see close up the animals that live in Sonoma and Marin counties. There were beef and dairy cows, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits all getting ready for their big debut in the show ring.
Farmer's Day events were held on Saturday, June 21 from noon to 4 p.m. There was team penning, the calf and pig scramble, mutton bustin' and the wild cow milking contest.
Cummings said the fair was advertised through a marketing campaign that included radio, television and newspapers.