The first event of its kind to grace the town centre, the Great British Bark Off provided residents and visitors to the town with a fun, free family event on Saturday 31st August – with plenty of surprises (and free cake!) for all.
Hosted by Loveashford in partnership with Emergency Exit Arts, the Great British Bark Off combined the humble English summer tradition of a dog show with a Great British Bake Off-inspired cake competition for local businesses.
Hosts Terry Bull and Johnny Poodles kicked off the afternoon of entertainment on Ashford’s Bandstand which started with live music from The Miss Jones Trio, who warmed the crowd up with a selection of toe-tapping tunes.
Over 30 dogs were entered into the show, which had four categories: best owner-dog relationship, most unusual talent, best story and best celebrity look-a-like.
Prizes for each category were kindly donated by several local businesses, and included tickets from local cinema PictureHouse to their upcoming Downton Abbey afternoon tea and screening; a bespoke, handmade dog collar from Made in Ashford; tickets to a family screening at Revelation St Mary’s and a Vodafone dog tracker.
Deputy Mayor Cllr John Link was on hand for the day to help with the judging process for each category, and picking a winner proved to be a tough task – particularly when it came to choosing the Best Story, as several of the entrants moved the crowd to tears with their heart-warming tales.
The winners were:
- Best owner-dog relationship: Poppy, who won her family a Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Experience courtesy of Ashford Picturehouse.
- Best Story: Bear, who won his family a ticket to a storytelling experience at Revelation St Marys.
- Most Unusual Talent: Oscar, who won himself a bespoke dog collar made especially by Melissa Dawkins at Made in Ashford.
- Best Celebrity Look-a-like: Rudey, who won a dog tracker from Vodafone for his uncanny likeness to Boris Johnson!
Entrants for the dog show came from a host of places across Kent. Along with Ashford residents, people travelled from as far as Canterbury and Sittingbourne – and even Hastings in East Sussex – to take part in the event and get their paws on the prizes.