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Eighth annual Pawfest takes over Largo Central Park
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Jezzie, a 4-year-old Sheltie from St. Petersburg, works the obstacle course at last year’s Pawfest.
LARGO – The eighth annual Pawfest is shaping up to be one of the best fundraisers the Largo Kiwanis have had, said their president Bruce Blazej.

The event is Saturday, April 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.

“We’re excited. We’re gearing up for everything,” he said, explaining that the club will begin setting up in the park after their meeting on Friday. “We’re looking to have a great event.”

The free event is designed to be a family day for dogs and humans alike. It acts as the club’s largest fundraiser for the year, allowing the organization to support local students.

This year, the local Pet Supermarket partnered with the club, joining Walker Ford and the Palms of Largo as a major sponsor of the event.

“We’re very excited to have them join us,” Blazej said.

Currently, the Kiwanis Club of Largo/Mid-Pinellas sponsors Bringing Up Grades programs at Ponce de Leon, Ridgecrest and Mildred Helms elementary schools as well as a Key Club at Largo High School. The club is working to start K-Kid and Bringing Up Grades programs at Frontier Elementary School.

This year’s Pawfest will go a long way to raising the needed funds, Blazej said.

“We’re looking equal about what we did in 2012, which was one of our best years,” he said, explaining that the club raised $8,000 before expenses. “I think we’re already at that spot.”

New this year is a car show, adjacent to the Largo Fire Rescue truck display. Also joining the vendor booths is the Treasure Coast Swift Paws, a lure-chasing company.

“We try to come up with something a little different every year,” Blazej said.

Among the drawings this year, which include four golf packages and donated gift baskets, is a painting by dog artist Brody the border collie, who Blazej met at Mutt Madness in Dunedin, where he auctioned off another piece of artwork.

Brody’s trainer and owner Lisa Morrissey of Hudson rescued Brody and began to teach him tricks to help him gain confidence. One of his best tricks, she soon discovered, was painting.

“(Lisa) had Brody paint a picture especially for us and had it framed,” Blazej said. “It comes with a certificate of paw-thenticity.”

To learn more about Brody, visit www.f­acebo­­m/Bro­dyThe­Borde­rColl­ie.

Usual favorites this year include K9 Murphy, whom the Kiwanis helped the Largo Police Department purchase, and demonstrations from the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club, which has been a part of Pawfest since the beginning.

The event will include dog rescues with adoptable dogs, bounce houses for children, hula-hoop contests, face painting by Clowns Galore and miniature train rides from the Largo Central Railroad. Also returning is the Veterinarian of the Year Awards.

Blazej said he expected good attendance as usual this year, perhaps even more because of the car show, which has the club has never done at a Pawfest before.

For more information, call the city at 587-6740, ext. 5014.
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