Dogs get ‘big air’ at Earth Day festival

DockDogs Football

Alex, a Weimaraner skilled at long distance jumping and speed retrieval, catches a football thrown by his owner, Trent Steele, during a DockDogs competition in Oak Ridge on Saturday.

More than 100 dogs from across the country competed in long-distance and vertical jump challenges in Oak Ridge this weekend in a first-time event that enthralled hundreds of people who encouraged the canines with loud cheers.

The three-day DockDogs competition, which also included a speed retrieval event, was part of the annual Earth Day festival at A.K. Bissell Park.

Earth Day Petting Zoo

Children enjoy the animal petting zoo at Earth Day in Oak Ridge on Saturday.

Besides that competition, the festival also included a bike rodeo, petting zoo, musical entertainment, vendors, and recycling stations, including for shoes and computers. There was also a Green Mile Children’s Run at the Oak Ridge High School track.

One dog that competed this weekend, Wrigley, a Weimaraner from Chicago, has a 6-foot, 8-inch vertical leap, said Trent Steele, president of Smoky Mountain DockDogs in Knoxville, which organized the contest. By Saturday afternoon, Wrigley had jumped 27 feet and one inch in a “Big Air” long-distance competition.

The DockDogs contest, which featured a 40-foot dock and 40-foot pool, was open to dogs of all skill levels, from novices to champions. Many Labrador and Chesapeake Bay retrievers competed.

Earth Day Band

J.D. Cable and the Empty Bottle Band play country music and Southern rock during the annual Earth Day festival in Oak Ridge.

More than 4,000 people attended Earth Day in Oak Ridge last year, and organizer Linda Johnston estimated that even more turned out this year.

“It’s mainly to create a more sustainable community and educate, empower, and encourage individuals,” Johnston said. “We are starting to see the fruits of our labor,” with sponsors stepping up to help organize events.

ORNL Booth at Earth Day

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory booth offers information on sustainability initiative.

Organizers said more than 5,000 pounds of electronics were recycled, along with 3,500 pounds of shredded paper, and 600 pounds of books, as well as blankets, stockings, hosiery, and 93 pairs of glasses. Recycled shoes went to the Soles4Souls charity.

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