By Christine Vincent
Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library’s Summer Reading Program is coming to an end, but the library has a grand summer finale in store: the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library’s 44th Annual Pet Show.
This greatest little show on the Harbor may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it is important to the many participants who attend. A number of local dignitaries have served as judges over the years, including former Daily World publisher John C. Hughes, who can probably boast the longest Hoquiam pet show résumé. As a young reporter, Hughes wrote about the very first show. Since then, he has served as judge intermittently until the present. Hughes has many fond pet show memories.
Other well-known names have sat in the judges booth, including Mayor Jack Durney who judged at the first pet show in 1971 when he was still a councilman. Hoquiam High School librarian Mary Lou Gregory and Daily World reporter Jane Goldberg are two others familiar with the long-running show. The ladies were still judging at the 30th pet show in 2001 — that’s commitment.
History of the Pet Show
The pet show got its unofficial start in 1970. At the time, circulation at the Hoquiam library was down and librarian Gail McGovern decided something had to be done. Hughes remembers, “[McGovern] was an effervescent lady. She was always looking for ways to bring kids to the library.” In the same year, the City of Hoquiam Parks Department staged a pet show.
One year later, in the summer of 1971, McGovern, youth librarian Harriet Lamb and their assistants organized a Hoquiam library pet show sponsored by the Parks Department and the newly founded nonprofit Friends of the Hoquiam Timberland Library. In practice, the city was still supporting the event, but the library took care of the organization.
It was July 30, 1971, when Hoquiam Parks director George Asan announced the first Hoquiam Timberland Library Pet Show. Pets were honored in the categories of smallest, biggest, modern dress, old-fashioned dress, ugliest, most unusual, funniest and “Judges’ Award.” A white cat was recognized for traveling the farthest and two small gerbils, which had tried and failed all other categories, were comforted with an endurance award. The show was an instant crowd pleaser.
Pet Show Categories Modified
After its inaugural success, it was decided — on the spot — that the pet show would become an annual event, and, in the years that followed, a number of traditions were established and modified.
Over the years, pet categories have been adjusted to make room for more participants or to make a particular pet and owner stand out. In the pet show’s second year, due to a great turn out of more than 100 kids, the largest/smallest categories were broken down into largest/smallest cat, largest/smallest dog, and smallest excluding cats and dogs. The change made more pets eligible for prizes and more pet owners happy, giving small dog owners a chance to win without being outdone by gerbils, goldfish and worms.
Best Dressed has always been a favorite category with lots of room for creativity. In the first show, Eric Stoneback’s Irish setter made a hilarious entry as a hippie wearing sunshades and a bandana. In 1987, Steve Youman’s box turtle, Rambo, appeared in a beach outfit sporting a mini Japanese paper umbrella. Fifteen years later in 2002, Brianna Arnold’s cat Keiko wore a striking bumblebee outfit.
In the years that followed, matching owner/pet outfits became popular, and a touching hometown duo, a boy and his dog, wore loggers gear. In 2006, a creative trio anticipated the 2015 Summer Reading superhero theme and dressed dog Maddie in a canine super dog outfit while her owners, Aiben and Meglacey Hirschfelder, were dressed as her super human sidekicks.
Over the years, a huge tarantula, a bullfrog named Tarzan, a humming bird named Popocito, several large snakes and a hermit crab entered the “most unusual” category. In 2007, a turkey named “Thanks Given” was entered into this category and was paraded before the judges by his young owner. The story goes that, sadly, Thanks Given had an accident at that year’s following Thanksgiving feast.
With countless categories and crowded arena full of pets and their people, Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library’s Annual Pet Show usually goes off without a hitch – usually. Retired Hoquiam youth librarian Margie Philbrick remembers one year when a horse contestant escaped and ran up the hill behind Olympic Stadium, where the event was being held that year.
Drawing in more than just pets and their owners, the number of spectators at the pet show often exceeded the number of contestants. With some young, petless spectators yearning for a chance to be a participating pet owner, youth librarian Lisa Cipolla introduced the “stuffed animal” category. There really is something for everyone at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library Annual Pet Show.
This year, the Hoquiam library is celebrating its 44th pet show, which makes the event the longest running pet show in Grays Harbor.
Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library’s Annual Pet Show will take place on Saturday, August 8, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. at the Hoquiam Timberland Library.
Please register your animals, stuffed or alive, before August 5. Registration is free.
For more information or to register your pet, call 360-532-7960 or follow the Hoquiam Timberland Library on Facebook.