The fifth annual Barkfest of Long Island was held this past Sunday, Oct. 25. Family, friends and dogs came donned in costumes to the pre-Halloween costume party. Charlie Ziegler, 30, is the Director of Operations and has been arranging this furry tradition for the past three years.

Over 200 people of all ages and dogs of all sizes came to Barkfest at the Holiday Inn Express in Centereach. Barkfest was started five years ago, hosted by Save-A-Pet Rescue and Adoption Center.

“Everybody from the community is welcome,” said Denean Lane, general manager of Holiday Inn Express. Admission is free, but donations were accepted. “Our vendors donate some gifts to the winners, and we [Holiday Inn] offer an overnight stay.”

Vendors included grooming services and animal hospitals. Organizations like the Suffolk SPCA and Little Shelter were also in attendance.


“Most importantly, we do it for awareness,” Laurie Harfenes, 54, said. Harfenes is a volunteer for Little Shelter, a no-kill animal shelter. Little Shelter’s volunteers attend annually to raise awareness for the animals in need of adoption.

The costume contest started at 2 p.m., after everyone arrived dressed to impress. Participants of the costume contest were told to line up behind the host and parade around the field.

Dogs trotted alongside their owners in their creative costumes. The pups sported all kinds of cute looks, ranging from other animals to Piper Chapman from “Orange is the New Black.” Kids jumped around, following the parade and cheering. Adults snapped photos of their furry friends.

Many attendees did not come to win, but rather for a good time for both their families and their pups.


“We came for our son; Jake has special needs so we wanted him to have fun.” Nicole Bren, 41, said. “It’s a fun day, a kick off to Halloween.”

The Bren family came with Elly, their Labrador mix. Elly was dressed in a colorful tutu. After seeing a poster posted by Stony Brook Village, Nicole and Pete decided to come to the outing.

Similarly, Kelly Schiavone, 44, came for a good time.

“I’m not here to compete. I’m not competitive, I’m here to have fun,” Schiavone said.

Schiavone and her four-year-old Doberman, Damien, were both in a batman costume.


“Damien loves the attention, though,” she said.

As luck would have it, Schiavone and Damien had won one of the five places in the costume contest.

Other winners included Coco, a Pomeranian, who was dressed as a skunk; Midas and Tank, a Welsh and shih tzu, with their hair dyed like tigers; Teddy, a Golden-doodle, in Yankees gear; and Digger, the “christening” dog, a special dog who had experienced a stroke last year.

All winners walked away with a big basket of dog essentials and happy dogs.


Featured image credit: Charles T. Ziegler


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