By Jim Misunas
STAFFORD — When Stafford’s Julynn Whitlock started thinking about ways to energize the Stafford Oktoberfest, she immediately thought of her dachshunds.
“The Stafford Oktoberfest was starting to lose interest and I knew Wiener Dog Races would be a big draw,” she said. “I wanted to start an event that would help our annual Oktoberfest Celebration that will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Wiener Dog Races are very popular but there were not any races in our area.”
The so-called “Weiner Dog Races,” were launched five years ago. It’s safe to say that Stafford’s Oktoberfest has officially gone to the dogs. The state’s largest Weiner Dog Race is expecting to draw more than 80 dachshunds Saturday afternoon.
“Pronto Pup,” is Whitlock’s favorite name entered, closely followed by “Jimmy Dean,” and “Rambo.” Two “Daisies,” are entered.
Final registration runs from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and racing starts at 3 p.m. in downtown Stafford. Each dog’s entry is $5.
“Most of the dogs have not raced, but it’s great for them to be socialized with other dogs,” Whitlock said. “The children love the races because they are so unpredictable. Some of the dogs might run halfway and turn around.”
She said successful owners show the dachshund a toy or treat as an incentive to reach the finish line. Dogs race in small heats and the winners advance.
Great Bend’s Butch Muehleisen entered “Dexter,” last year.
‘‘For me, the best part is seeing the dogs meet each other,” he said. “But the biggest attraction is when you see those weiner dogs with their ears flapping, it really is comical. It is a lot of fun.”
Whitlock was smitten by her precious dachshunds at an impressionable age.
She thinks that dachshunds are the funniest dogs she’s ever seen.
The dogs carry an attitude that doesn’t match their size, but they are people-oriented.
“Dachshunds think they are bigger than other dogs,” she said. “They are pretty funny dogs. They will clown around and show off their personality.”
The standard size dachshund was bred to seek badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals. Miniature dachshunds were developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the American West, dachshunds have been used to hunt prairie dogs.
Children are naturally drawn to the tiny dachshund.
“They are so cute and funny because they like to burrow into places and snuggle in,” she said. “They are good travelers because they like being with their owners.”
The Weiner Dog Races raise money for the Pawnee County Humane Society. Several Pawnee Humane Society members entered dogs and assisted as volunteers.
“My top priority is to raise money to help homeless pets in our area,” Whitlock said. “I wanted to raise money for an animal shelter in a rural community.
Whitlock said the Weiner Dog Races are well organized and dog friendly. The racers are kept a safe distance from the spectators. She invests time and energy in promoting the Weiner Dog Races. She has invested in fencing and starting gates.
“I am super passionate about my races and my fiance and I have spent thousands of our own money getting our event going,” she said. “Our races in just a few short years have become the biggest and best in the state.”
Additional revenue will be produced by a silent auction. Raffles of pet supplies and prizes have been donated by online vendors and donations from friends and supporters such as South Fork Veterinary Hospital in Pratt.
Stafford High students Tristan Paulsen and Derek McClure have created the trophies through the Stafford SEED program. Students in Stafford’s “Jobs for America’s Graduates” program will sell chili dogs and puppy chow. The JAG program is a national educational and employment system designed to improve graduation rates and academic achievement to help students succeed in school and in the workplace.
For information, call Whitlock, (620) 546-4377.
The group’s facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Oktoberfestwienerraces) offers up-to-date information. A video from the 2012 race (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slsj5B0Mx-8) offers a glimpse at last year. For information, see (http://weinerdograces.com/).
7 a.m. — Craft, Food vendors, Main/Broadway, Senior Center
8 a.m. — 2 mile walk/5K run, Stafford High, 500 E. Broadway
8 a.m. — Coffee, donuts, Oktoberfest booth, 100 S. Main
8 a.m. — Kenny King Memorial softball, fairgrounds
9 a.m.-4 p.m. — Arts, crafts, food vendors, Main/Broadway, Senior Center
9:30 a.m. — Parade line-up, Broadway at Buffalo St.
10 a.m. — Children’s parade line-up, S. Main at Crawford St
10:30 a.m. — Main Street parade
11:30 a.m. — Antique Tractor Show, S. Main
11:30 a.m. — Children’s Inflatable Rides, N. Main
12:30 p.m. — Wiener dog registration, N. Main at Stafford St.
1 p.m. — Horseshoe Tournament, mini-park on S. Main
3 p.m. — Wiener Dog Races
3 p.m. — Cow Patty Bingo, by the stage
Noon — National Anthem, Taylor Falk
12:05 p.m. — Clayton Grimmett, welcome
12:10 p.m. — Janet Vasey Hardin, vocal
12:30 p.m. — Stafford High School, vocal
12:50 p.m. — Brooks Young & Co., band
1:35 p.m. — Taylor Falk, vocal
2 Minute To Win It Contest
3 p.m. — Contest winners, prize drawings, pumpkin auction
5:30 p.m. — SHS Alumni banquet, 418 E. Broadway
8 p.m. — Street Dance, Land Rush, Main at Broadway