Despite early morning storms, the dogs of Denison got their day Saturday as the city held its annual Bark and Paws Festival. The event, now in its ninth year, celebrates the city’s four-legged residents will also raising funds for local animal causes.


For this year’s event, organizers encouraged pets and owners alike to take a trip to the tropics with a luau theme.


“The last time I wore this dress, I was in Hawaii,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said, while sporting a floral-print dress. “But, I was determined to be in theme.”


Main Street Director Donna Dow said the event continued despite morning storms, with most of the scheduled events taking place as scheduled. While she hoped for about 50 animals to come out and celebrate the summer season, only about two dozen had arrived by late morning.


“People are still having a good time and people were really looking forward to this,” Dow said. “A lot of kids would be disappointed if they couldn’t bring out their dog.”


The event featured perennial contests including wiener dog and small dog races, a parade through downtown and a master and dog look alike contest, among others. The event also served as a fundraiser for the Denison Animal Welfare Group, who held a 5k race through downtown to start the event. Funds from the race went toward the organization’s goal of building a new animal shelter, which will be located along Morton Street.


“In spite of the terrible weather, DAWG supporters and volunteers came out to support the mission of making a new shelter a reality,” DAWG President Stephanie Phillips said Saturday, via text message.


Among the visitors to downtown Denison Saturday was Barney the Great Dane and his owner Phyllis Adams. Despite the early morning showers, Adams said the storms were not going to rain on their parade, figuratively or literally.


Adams said Barney, who was dressed in a blue Hawaiian shirt, has competed for several years and won during the parade event last year. The rains were not about to stop this tradition, she said.


“He comes every year, but it is usually too hot for him to stay for the whole thing,” she said. “I doubt he will overheat today.”


Sally Thomason and Sissy, the China Jack, also decided to come to the event despite possible storms. Thomason said her dog always does well in many of the events, including with talents and tricks.


“I think this is just a really good community event that really brings people together,” she said. “Almost everyone I know loves dogs and with the DAWG group it really does a lot to bring the people together.”


Michael Hutchins is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.