By Evan Lips
Special to the Times
BRANFORD >> The Town Green was invaded Saturday by a horde of four-legged friends, all in the name of celebrating eight hours of peace and music.
Ken Engelman, one of the organizers of ‘Woofstock,’ said the event’s second year dramatically outdistanced last summer’s edition in terms of popularity. The event drew 36 vendors, six times as many as it did in 2013.
But Engelman said he wasn’t surprised with the festival’s success.
“This is what we all worked so hard for,” he said. “But it will never be enough because the job of finding homes for dogs is a never-ending one.”
But what Engelman and other volunteers accomplished on Saturday certainly won’t hurt. The goal was to raise money for the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter through an auction, raffle and donations. The event drew hundreds of animal lovers and scores of dogs. Patrons and pups rocked out to live music acts like The Grateful Friends, Neon Ducks and The McLovins.
Some people, like Fall River, Massachusetts, couple Tyler Rocha and Rebecca Vasconcelos, traveled more than 100 hundred miles to attend.
“We heard about it and thought it would be a great time,” said Rocha, who held his 1-year-old beagle Phloyd.
Rocha added that he and Vasconcelos are also fans of The McLovins.
Vendors traveled to Branford all the way from places like New Jersey, where Acadia Antlers is partly based. The company sells shedded Maine moose antlers to be used as dog chew toys. Other vendors like Kristina Lough didn’t have to travel as far. Lough, who is from Branford, specializes in hand-painted glassware. She said the event was the perfect place to expand awareness of her business, Painted by the Shore, and added that she was happy to know that the vendor fee was “going to a good cause.”
Dogs were also not the only animals to hit the Green. One of the most popular booths was run by Andy Sollecito, a Springfield, Massachusetts, reptile handler who runs a business called EyeCandyExotix.
Sollecito says his business’s mission is to connect reptiles with pet lovers. Patrons took turns holding Sunny, an 8-foot long Burmese python. Dogs, meanwhile, were more interested in Tyrone, a tortoise who was more interested in dining on blades of grass than interacting with his canine onlookers.
Engelman said vendors like Sollecito are a sign that ‘Woofstock’ is growing in popularity. Sollecito did not make the trip last year for the event. He added that the mission of ‘Woofstock’ also fits with what he wants to accomplish — linking responsible pet owners with reptiles that are in need of a home.
Annie Hornish, director for Connecticut’s Humane Society chapter, also attended the event. Hornish said 2014 has been a good year for dogs as the state recently passed a bill that makes it the nation’s strictest when it comes to regulating puppy mills, a term used to describe mass-breeders who engage in inhumane breeding tactics. The new law means pet owners now can turn around and slap pet stores with retail and veterinarian bills for dogs and cats that immediately fall ill after purchase.
The statute also bars sales of cats and dogs purchased from breeders who have violated animal welfare regulations.
Other patrons of the festival included Mike and Sharon Esposito, who brought their 7-year-old bloodhound Clyde Wayne to ‘Woofstock.’
“It’s a great experience,” Sharon Esposito said. “Everyone here is so happy.”
Engelman said he hopes that happiness will be contagious and encourage more potential pet owners to adopt.
“People were lining up this morning to get in here,” he said about the event, which kicked off at noon and wrapped up at around 8 p.m. “There were a lot of good vibes here today.”
To see animals available for adoption, visit the shelter’s website at www.branfordanimalshelter.org, or call 203-315-4125.
Call Evan Lips at 203-789-5727. Have questions,feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com. This story appeared in the New Haven Register.