Each year at the end of February, Solvang goes to the dogs when Greyhound Fest takes hold of the city. Solvang, an extremely dog-friendly town, opens their arms to this festival of Greyhounds. The merchants, many of the hotels, wine bars and tasting rooms as well as restaurants are filled with Greyhounds and Greyt stuff.
Greyhound Fest is an annual event bringing people and Greyhounds from various parts of the country together to raise money for Greyt Legs, an organization providing financial assistance to Greyhound Rescue groups that help Greyhounds coming off the track with broken legs.
Teri Rogo, one of the event organizers says, “If we didn’t have greyhounds we wouldn’t have a reason for the Greyhound Festival. It’s the greyhounds that bring us together”.
Besides Greyhounds you will also see many other sight hound dog breeds including Borzois and whippets. This year I attended with my token Greyhound, Parker, the Grizzle Saluki.
From Parker and my point of view here are some highlights of our weekend as we wandered partook in Greyhound Fest and wander Solvang.
The streak is the most popular event of the Greyhound Fest weekend. The majority of sight hounds love to run and at Greyhound Fest Greyhounds are invited to partake in “The Streak” as the hounds can blow off steam by running for the bunny in a cordoned straight run. Officer Wing, an off duty Solvang Police Officer clocks the Greyhounds as they gallop down the stretch with full speed or mosey down the run at a leisurely pace.
The Blessing of the Hounds
Situated on the peaceful grounds of Solvang’s Mission Santa Inés, Father Gerald Barron blesses all Greyhounds in attendance by dabbling holy water on them as they lay idly on the lawn.
Parker met his counter part, Parker the fawn Greyhound. Greyhound Parker’s owner, Nick Hunseder volunteered to hold Saluki Parker while I took photos.
As this was Nick’s first adventure to Greyhound fest he said, “We thoroughly enjoyed our first Solvang Greyhound Fest! Well worth the 10 hour drive from Arizona, the friendly people, shopkeepers and town staff combined with the beautiful scenery made the event a fun-filled weekend. Parker, our 8-year old retired racing Greyhound had a greyt time and was especially fond of wine tasting rooms! We plan to return in 2014 for the 10 year anniversary.”
It is a must for all Greys to attend the raffle and pizza party. The raffle prizes were amazing with bags of plush toys everywhere. I saw many a Greyhound readily eyeing to steal a stuffed animal.
The question for evening was who was devouring the pizza. I could see some Greyhounds enjoying the pizza. See what happens when you travel with mom and dad, you get treated like royalty.
Lots of hound ware was available to be purchased in the Veteran’s Memorial Hall, including Sight hound collars, winter jackets, jewelry. I am especially fond of the jackets and have purchased many for my Salukis. Parker loves his. The best part is 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these jackets go to GreySave.
Wandering Dog Wine Bar
As a wine connoisseur, Parker and I visited my favorite dog-friendly wine bar in Solvang, the Wandering Dog Wine Bar. Greyhounds spread themselves out on the floor making one wonders who imbibed more the Greyhounds or the humans. Hopefully both made it back to their hotel rooms safely.
When entering the Wandering Dog beware of the canine welcoming committee, Bentley the Goldendoodle and Lucy the black Labrador who usually bestow exuberant dog kisses upon you.
The Artistic Pony
The Artistic Pony is one of my favorite shops in Solvang, carrying unique jewelry, animal themed and other gift items. Owners Sue and Jeff Moualim are dog and horse people and welcomed the Greyhounds with their own special treat.
This year I provided a special Greyhound art exhibit at The Artistic Pony. Since sight hound art is my forte, it was a perfect place for me to showcase my Greyhound artwork. During the show, I did a live demonstration creating a Greyhound Drawing. Parker and I enjoyed showing customers my artwork. Parker like a statue became part of my exhibit.
Wine Valley Inn
Being a pet-friendly town, many Solvang hotels welcome Greyhounds. One place is the Wine Valley Inn. This hotel is a charming tribute to Denmark with its timber styled architecture. The Wine Valley Inn is perfect for any Greyhound’s visit. Those staying in the cottages will find an extraordinary adventure as one feels as if they escaped into C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Many of the cottages feature private yards making them one of the best choices for a stay with dogs.
Sandy Hallmann, General Manager of the Wine Valley Inn is excited to welcome yearly visits by the Greyhounds. “Every year we are honored and look forward to having The West Coast Greyhounds stay with us at Wine Valley Inn. On this weekend, these very special dogs are the ambiance and main attraction of the hotel and all of Solvang. It is clear when you have the opportunity to spend some time with them that they are true royalty with a kind and gentle soul. I especially enjoy listening to all the rescuers after the days activities as they meet in the lobby each year to share their experiences and show off their pride Greyhound.”
There is no doubt that Sandy makes you and you dog welcome at her hotel. Those pet owners who have experienced the negative aspects of finding acceptable lodging with their dogs, will find the Wine Valley Inn is truly a pet-friendly hotel that treats dogs as if they are royalty.
Parker and I were definitely welcomed with our stay in a cottage loft that was extremely comfortable and spacious with its separate living area and kitchen.
All in all Greyhounds bring us together in Solvang for Greyhound Fest but at the same time they bring us together by enriching the lives of those who are touched by them. A special thanks goes to those Greyhound owners that have rescued a Greyhound from the track and given them a forever home.
If you are a Greyhound lover there are two upcoming events in Southern California that are fun fundraisers for Greyhound groups. One is the GreySave Picnic on May 11, 2013 and the other is the Fast Friends Summer Picnic on June 8, 2013.
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