Bees, peas, and maybe a few stowaway fleas strutted down Oak Avenue during Saturday’s St. Helena Pet Pawrade and Harvest Festival.
Best in Show went to the Save the Bees group, with adults dressed as beekeepers, kids as bees, and dogs as flowers.
The other awards went to the Bo Peep Squad led by Suzanne Nichols (Best Costumed Pet), Tony & Tina’s Wedding featuring Trixie (Best Performance), Jackson Pawlick (Most Creative Group), and Salty Dogs (Judges’ Favorite).
The judges were Terilynn Buchanan, teacher at St. Helena Elementary School; Paul Dohring, vice mayor; Mark Hoffmeister, owner of Wydown Hotel and recreation sports coach; Serena Pitts, multi-sport youth athlete and previous Pet Pawrade winner; and Darrell Quirici, 2019 Harvest King.
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A very different sort of pet took the spotlight after the Pet Pawrade: Search-and-rescue dogs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s California Task Force 3 out of Menlo Park. The specially trained search-and-rescue dogs – 80% wash out during the certification process – navigated tunnels, ladders and teeter-totters to demonstrate their agility and obedience.
The dogs are trained to sniff out live humans trapped in rubble or smashed-up cars, drawing upon the same hunt drive that causes regular dogs to chase down toys and balls.
“The work that we ask them to do is really intense and demanding,” said handler Caroline Upton of St. Helena, who works with a 3-year-old lab named Wawona. “They either have that drive and love their work or they don’t. There’s no in-between.”
The Harvest Festival continued with food and drinks from local nonprofits, kids activities zone, photo booth, bike rodeo, face-painting, taekwondo demonstration, music by the Saint Helena Community Band’s Dixieland Band and Ordinary Sons, arts and crafts vendors, and informational booths.