SHEPHERDSTOWN – In 2012 when Shepherdstown celebrated its 250th anniversary, Meredith Wait found herself thinking of ways to add more weekend festivals downtown.
“It came to me that most of our customers have dogs,” said Wait, who owns Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery at 119 E. German St. with her partner Debbie Dickinson.
“People here love animals. It’s who we are as a town,” Wait said. “I thought a festival about dogs would be a good fit.”
Seven years ago the Shepherdstown Visitors Center picked up on the idea and the first Shepherdstown DogFest ran for two days on a spring weekend, said Marianne Davis, Visitors Center director.
Last year about 2,000 people attended. “Shepherdstown is the right town for this because it’s a town that loves dogs,” she said.
This weekend’s festival will include 44 exhibitors, among them nonprofit organizations promoting spay and neutering services, the Blue Ridge Canine Blood Banks and representatives from the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County, and the county-owned Jefferson County Animal Control.
Festival sponsors include Jefferson Confluence of Adventure, Greensburg Bed & Biscuit, Sundogs Bed and Breakfast, and Shepherd University.
Davis also invited sponsors on opposite sides of the controversial Rockwool stonewool insulation manufacturing plant that’s under construction on 195 acres near Kearneysville – Jefferson County Vision, formed last summer after the factory’s construction got underway, and Jefferson County Prosperity, a newer group that positions itself as pro-business.
“I invited both groups because they are Jefferson County community groups who want to do something good for animals,” she said. “They’re not coming to DogFest to promote their causes.”
The festival is “neutral ground,” she said.