Travel Sarnia, ON: Doggie Paddle Beach Fest 2018

doggie paddle 5Rain, rain, didn’t go away – unfortunately – along Port Huron’s border with Sarnia, Canada.

After weeks of unseasonably hot temperatures, it rained in Sarnia, Ontario – all day – July 21, 2018. And the temperature dropped to (believe or not) jacket weather.

Why is that significant?

The 21, 2018 was the third Saturday in July which means annual the Doggie Paddle Beach Fest in Sarnia was on, claiming status as ‘Ontario’s exclusive dog beach festival.’ Within view of cargo ships drifting along Lake Huron, doggies frolicked on the sandy shore of Canatara Park Beach unrestraint by leashes normally required by law.

Well, not entirely … first, only the determined weathered the dampness. The number of people willing to pay $20 per dog to play in the surf was fewer than expected, but the dogs there were enthusiastic. Second, the entire beach wasn’t available for puppy paws, only a fenced-in zone that was tight enough to get crowded, even in the rain.

Organizers soldiered on, keeping the lure course open for half the day – the festival ran 10 am to 4pm – and continuing the agility demonstrations, albeit at a slower pace considering the slippery surfaces. Furry four-footed competitors didn’t seem to notice.

Vendors hung in – primarily pet-related such as Petvalu, local pet boarding facilities, and some non-pet related tables like Tupperware and a paint-your-own-pottery facility. Two food trucks stayed for the day, but the beer tent – new to the festival this year – in the middle of a leash-free running zone wasn’t popular largely due to a lack of sunshine.

TRAVEL GUIDE: Any day of the summer, the beach in Sarnia’s Canatara Park (1200 Lake Chipican Drive, 1.5 km from Highway 402) is of course open and leashed dogs can stroll the kilometre-long shore with you, or head out one of the piers to get a better view of the St. Clair River feeding into Lake Huron.

If sand in your shores isn’t your thing, take the dog through the 100 acres of park trails and picnic areas.

Canatara Beach is one of 27 in Canada to be given ‘Blue Flag’ status for adherence to strict water quality and safety criteria – including on-duty lifeguards 11 am to 6 pm, June to August.

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