by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Carol Law
Even a very cold morning and rain throughout the day couldn't dampen the spirits of the 4 legged festivals goers at Blessfest in Newmarket. Indeed the 4 legged festival goers may have out-numbered their faithful owners who brought them to the festival at Fairy Lake to enjoy all that makes a dog's (and cat's) life a pampered one. Dogs and people wore rain coats and boots, sweaters, and hats. Blessfest Canada was organized to celebrate and bless the animals based on the now, non-denominational, The Blessing of the Animals was an event that was started in the 1500s by St. Francis of Assisi and now occurs annually around the world.
Lots To See...
From clothing, to food, to fashionable accessories, there was a variety of vendors, services and information booths at the Blessfest Canada. BARC (Buckle-up Animal Restraint & Control) is a program sponsored by Toronto Police to help motorists be aware of and comply with the law (Ontario Highway Traffic Act: sections 130 & 162). Their live mascot was happy to show you how he wears his harness.
Cats and Dogs
The one booth for cats represented a network of cat rescue organizations and was situated away from the dog rescue booth! A very large "cat" was stirring up trouble in between changing children's faces into animal faces at the face painting booth. That large "cat" got into mischief at the one booth that had offerings for wild birds. Speaking of birds, the local mallard ducks seemed curious about the visitors to their park and, unflustered, wandered about the crowd curious to check out all the new sights. Children could also enjoy a ride on a small cart pulled by a dog. The dogs were very eager to be at this activity and sometimes even took the cart for a spin without a rider although the rain kept them off duty a fair bit.
Blessing the Animals...
Blessfest Canada seemed to be largely an event for dogs and their faithful owners. Blessing of the Animals occurred throughout the day: participants were to register on line but last minute participants weren't turned away. This was a great idea to ensure that participants could be accommodated and allowed the festival organizers to get an idea of how many to expect. Well advertised and posted special presentations occurred throughout the day which encouraged the festival goers to spend the full day at this festival. The first 200 people received "goodie bags" for their dogs. Even this delightful touch did double duty: the goodie bag had a few items that could be donated back to the “+ one movement”.
Bless the Volunteers...
Although Blessfest Canada was dedicated to the important animals in our lives the organizers also valued their volunteers. It was never hard to find one: they were enthusiastic and easy to find in their bright blue t-shirts (pulled over parkas!) that read “Blessfest – The Blessed Help”.
Here's hoping Blessfest Canada is back next year and able to bring even more of the wonderful services, organizations, and vendors to this event. Even if you don't own a dog or cat this event was a wonderful celebration of the animals that are a loyal and important part of so many lives.