Those who passed by Bayview Corner Saturday afternoon might have thought Halloween came early.
People from across the island dressed in goofy, creative costumes and were seen smiling from ear to ear, despite the gloomy weather. It wasn’t the humans’ costumes that brought out the laughs, though.
It was their four-legged friends who took center stage by showing off their swanky styles in this year’s Mutt Strut.
“It’s a day devoted to laughter, fun and creativity,” Sandra Whiting, Goosefoot executive director, said. “It’s a chance for our community to get together and have a good time. That’s the whole purpose.”
The 12th annual Mutt Strut, held in conjunction with the fall-centric Apple Day, brought costumed pups from across Whidbey Island to a makeshift runway inside Bayview Hall. Organized by Goosefoot, Bayview Farm and Garden and the Bayview Farmer’s Market, the festivities are put on every year as the farmer’s market season comes to a close and fall weather takes root. Considering farmer’s market fans are likely disappointed to see the last market of the year, Mutt Strut organizers led a parade through the market and the garden center much to bystanders’ delight.
Following the parade, the pups had their chance to shine. Each costumed dog and their owner strutted before a panel of judges and were graded on cuteness, costume creativity and innovation. Nearly 40 contestants went paw to paw, with some familiar faces and a couple of first time outsiders competing for prizes. Awards for best dog and owner costume, best child costume, best trick and best celebrity dog were handed out.
Despite emceeing the event every year, Freeland’s Jim Freeman was visibly excited to get up close and personal with the costumed canines, especially when a pug named Mac waltzed onto the runway dressed as Yoda. He simply had to lay on the ground with the dog.
“I’ve got to get down here to see if you’re as cute as you are from up there,” Freeman said.
Mac proceeded to lick Freeman’s nose on cue. The appearance won him an award for “best celebrity dog.”
Numerous contestants took home awards in previous years, and this year was no different for some of the regular winners. A black lab named Maggie sparked “oos” and “ahs” from the crowd when she walked out in a showgirl outfit meant for the Las Vegas strip with her owner Barry Dunn. The attire won her a best dog costume award, which she also won the previous year.
Other costumes included a Boston terrier dressed as a martini glass, two Norwich Terrier mixes as a Ghostbuster and ghost, and a dachshund in a hot dog costume. Some owners even managed to poke fun at the day’s political climate, dressing their 2-year-old Jack Russell and corgi mix named Rio as “little rocket man.” Rio wore an outfit that resembled the clothes worn by North Korean party leaders as owner Sarah Primrose asked him to “press the button.” Rio then high-fived Primrose.
Mutt Strut wasn’t only a chance to dress up dogs, though, as some joined their four-legged friends in playing dress up. South Whidbey residents Brian Plebanek and Gail Liston were in that category, as the two dressed in medieval clothing with their golden retriever and pug, Koa and Buddy. Together, they were Queen Elizabeth’s Court, consisting of the queen, Sir Francis Drake, the Duke of Bayview and a court jester. They took home the best dog and owner costume award.
Likewise, Freeland resident Natasha Sheldon dressed up with her two Yorkshire terriers like she does every year. This year, she dressed them up as Beauty and the Beast, with 4-year-old Ginger as the beauty and 7-year-old Jake as the beast. Jake’s tongue is constantly sticking out of his mouth, making him the beast, Sheldon says.
For Sheldon and Liston, it’s a chance for them to prove their embroidery skills.
“Every year, I make costumes by hand,” Sheldon said. “I always try to come up with creative things and sew them myself. It’s got to be bright, colorful and a little bit funny.”