Boogety, boogety, boogety. Let's go Wiener Dog racing!
Thousands of wiener dog aficionados and owners will make the trek to the Tinsley Pavilion at the Lee Civic Center on Saturday, March 29, for the fifth annual Wiener Dog Derby.
The event, now in its fourth year at the civic center, got started in 2010, when it set a national record with 250 entrants and nearly 3,500 fans in its only year at the Shell Factory.
"We had to relocate to the civic center, where we've had it ever since," said Weiner Dog Derby president Doug Daily, who is also honorary mayor of North Fort Myers. "We're one of the biggest wiener dog races in the country."
Dailey said that nearly 100 have already registered, and that as many as 175 are anticipated. Between 2,000 and 2,500 are expected to attend.
The dogs will be separated into four divisions: puppy, adult, old-school (age 7 and older) and wanna-be (anything but a wiener-dog or a mixed breed).
Dailey said winners get the coveted "Wienie-jacket" and a trophy. Last year's winner was Odie from Key Largo, who is returning to defend his crown.
Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida is the main sponsor of the race, and will provide about $10,000 in veterinary services as prizes, and the proceeds will benefit the Carnes Foundation, which assists dachshunds with serious injuries.
"We will have one of the largest purses in the country for wiener dog racing," Dailey said.
There will be free admission and $6 parking per carload. Gates open at 10 a.m., and all friendly breed dogs are welcome. Racing starts at 11 a.m.
There will be numerous vendors, many of them pet rescue agencies that the derby has always supported, as well as lots of food, racing, and those cute little dogs.
Pre-registration online ends on Tuesday, March 25. The cost is $20 which allows your wiener to run in two races, and $10 if you want to do only one or if you're in the "wanna-be" category. The race day fee is $20 for masters.
Dogs need current shot records to participate in the Florida Wiener Dog Derby.
Participants must bring a copy of your shot records to the Derby. A veterinarian or assistant will be on hand to check for mixed breeds, animal safety and health concerns that may be a disqualifying factor for Derby racing.
For more information, you can "like" them on Facebook or find them online at www.floridawienerdogderby.com.
The Lee County Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers.