PugFest VIII: Cirque du Pug will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers.
Now in its eighth year, the event is a fun dog-friendly fund-raiser for the Lee County Library System's annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival. This year's theme is Cirque du Pug.
Morningstar Dog Training will run the three cirque-related contests open to any dog breed, including Best Cirque Performer Costume, Ring of Fire Jump, Statuesque and a pug-only Best Pug Cirque Performer contest.
Additionally, there will be a dog fashion show presented by Discount Pets & Supplies, a chance auction with prizes and a variety of pet products to browse or buy.
More than 1,500 animal lovers and 500 dogs attended last year.
"This will be another great PugFest. The cirque theme will provide for a very entertaining afternoon," event organizer Margie Byers said. "We can't wait to see all the dogs dressed up for the circus."
Lee County PugFest organizers are grateful to their sponsors, Bell Tower Shops, LITE 93.7, Morningstar Dog Training and Discount Pets & Supplies, as well as master of ceremonies John T. Hulbert III, whose commentaries and music make the contests and fashion show comical.
Admission is free, but a $5 donation per family is suggested. All funds raised benefit the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, a free community event to showcase the library's programs and resources and to promote reading and literacy.
The Lee County PugFest started when Dan Yaccarino, author and illustrator of the book about a pug called "Unlovable," was scheduled to attend the Southwest Florida Reading Festival in 2005.
Festival coordinators asked Yaccarino to stay an extra day for PugFest, which would be modeled after the original PugFest event in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Since 2005, the event has taken off and attracts about 1,200 people and 500 dogs and has raised more than $13,000.
For more information about PugFest or the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, call 337-READ (7323) or visit: www.readfest.org.
The Reading Festival is 100 percent community supported through generous donations, sponsorships and grants.
To help ensure the continuation of the free community event, visit: www.readfest.org to make a secure online donation.