Dog owners and lovers come together for a day at the park

If you walked by Durham Central Park on Oct. 6, you probably asked yourself, “Who let the dogs out?”

Hundreds of dog owners and lovers alike came together for Durham Parks and Recreation’s 10th Annual Woofstock, an event celebrating canines and canine recreation.


Ken Clowney, his daughter Kiara and their dog, took in all that this year’s Woofstock had to offer. This was their first year attending as a family and it was clear that both Kiara and their dog, who kept wagging his tail as other dogs passed by, were equally as excited. They eagerly waited in line for a caricature of their pup and chatted with some of the other dog owners in line.

“Durham Parks and Recreation’s mission is to provide opportunities for our community to play more,” said Cynthia Booth, public affairs coordinator for Woofstock. “And of course our canine friends are just as a part of our community as our residents are.”

“So because we have three dog parks, it started out with a celebration of Pineywood Park, and over the years it has grown into a big event, and a lot of people come and enjoy the festivities we have here,” she said.

Various vendors lined the park with tables set up for interested dog owners. Along with pet adoption centers and hospitals, and a farmers market array of specialty dog foods, the booth for free caricatures appeared to be the most popular.

Dog owner Ken Clowney waited in line with his daughter, Kiara and their new pup to have one of these caricatures done.

“She’s super excited,” he said. “It’s her first time being at this with so many dogs. I don’t know who’s more excited, her, or the dog.”

This year, in addition to showcasing local organizations, Parks and Rec decided to add something new to the mix as a source of entertainment.

“We tried to change it up a little bit this year, adding the Sky Houndz Hyperflite competition,” said Michelle Burger, coordinator for Woofstock. “So we added that this year to draw in more people, and it’s actually a state championship so we have people from different areas of the state, some people from Virginia, Maryland are here. We just wanted to mix it up a little bit and do something different.”

The competition had talented pups and their owners running through obstacle courses and soaring through the air to catch Frisbees. Spectators watched from the sidelines and applauded as these canines showed their skills.

So what is it about this canine-filled event that brings the Durham community together?

“We hope that people will get to meet other people that have canine friends and they’ll have the opportunity to learn about the different services that vendors have to offer in Durham,” Booth said. “More importantly, that they’ll learn about the opportunity we have in Parks and Recreation through our canine recreation unit.”

However, it isn’t solely about educating Durham dog owners on the best ways to be responsible with their dogs. Burger says it’s more about encouraging fun.

“What we really like to promote is recreation,” she said. “The recreation side of having a dog and dog ownership and being a responsible dog owner, but also, we’re really all about having fun and playing more.”

And with a larger turnout this year, Burger hopes that Woofstock will continue to grow in the coming years.