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Pet fair, 5K race draws good crowd to Hubbard Park in Meriden


By Sheridan Cyr Special to the Record-Journal

MERIDEN — The 9th annual CT Pet Fair, Dog Walk and 5K race was held Saturday at Hubbard Park.

The event, run by the Meriden Rotary Club and Saving Paws, grows every year, adding activities for pets and owners. This year, food trucks were invited to participate. Dozens of local vendors, mostly selling pet-related items, also set up around the park bandshell.

Dave Lake, Rotary Club member and event chairman, said that the fair is the club’s second largest fundraiser of the year.

“This event is very near and dear to my heart,” said Lake. He strives to make each year “a little bigger and a little better than the last.

The first year the fair only included vendors. The dog walk was added the second year, and the road race was added the third.

Lake estimated between 2,000 to 3,000 would attend throughout the day. The money raised surpassed the $15,000 goal and will be split between the Rotary Club and Saving Paws.

The club uses the funds to benefit the local community and international efforts, including “End Polio Now,” a worldwide program that distributes polio vaccination. Locally, the Rotary Club supports the Amber Alert program, fire departments, Project Graduation, local parks and more.

Saving Paws uses the money to help pets and owners in nearby areas, providing services such as spaying and neutering, food pantries for animals, vaccine clinics, assistance to local Animal Control and more. It is the second year Saving Paws has taken part in the event.

“Our goal today is to raise funds for Saving Paws and for the Rotary Club so we can give back to others,” said Sarah Bacon, Saving Paws secretary.

Vendors offered organic dog food, handmade collars and leashes, veterinary services, grooming services, dog-sitting and more.

Petsense, a petstore in Cromwell, was handing out snack bags of dog food to promote their location. Petsense employee Nicole Gretta was happy to be in attendance at the Fair.

“There’s a great variety of offerings for people and pets here today,” said Gretta. She explained that Petsense tries to “fill the niche between large pet stores and the ‘Mom and Pop’ stores by providing a large selection with friendly one-on-one assistance.”

In addition to the vendors and food trucks, several demonstrations were given on rescuing, dog training, and pet safety.

Steven Allen of New Haven was the first male finisher in the 5K race, and Liz Fengler of Wallingford was the first female finisher. Connor Martin, 9, of Meriden won the kids’ race.

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