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Woofstock Festival benefits Humane Society Naples

Laura Tichy-Smith
Special to Coastal Life

An afternoon of peace, puppy love and music is coming to the Mercato in north Naples next Sunday.

Treats for dogs and humans will be available to purchase from the vendors at Woofstock.

Bring your dog to the fourth annual Woofstock concert, which benefits the Humane Society Naples.

“It’s a fun day out for the family,” said Rachael Johnston, marketing coordinator the Humane Society Naples, “but the biggest thing is that it’s a fundraiser for Humane Society Naples. Everyone who comes pays $5 and gives us in-kind donations — it all comes back to the shelter and is put to immediate use.”

The benefit features adoption groups showing adoptable pets, vendors, an agility course, live music and craft beer and wine. Festival attendees can also enter to win a door prize for a $250 Mercato experience gift package by donating items on the Humane Society’s wish list.

Woofstock is a pet and child-friendly event.

The Mercato provides an appropriate setting for the event with more than 30 dog-friendly restaurants and stores. The shopping complex fences off its event lawn for the day to give the dogs an enclosed space to play.

Awesome place

“The outdoor lawn at Mercato is an awesome place for a festival,” said Bruce Hecksel, one of the musical entertainers for the event. “It’s just a great place for a gathering in general, and that lawn has a great feel.

The band Patchouli returns to play this year’s Woofstock.

“North Naples is spread out so there really isn’t a downtown gathering place,” he said. “In that sense, Mercato becomes that place with a little bit of a main street feel even though it’s a mall. It brings families out, so it makes for fun events that are inviting to everybody.”

Acoustic entertainment includes award-winning slide guitarist Kraig Kenning and acoustic folk and flamenco guitar duo Patchouli, comprised of Herksel and his partner, Julie Patchouli. While a concert for the dogs might sound a little counterintuitive, the gentle sounds of guitar music seems to suit the furry children well.

“It’s not too rock-ish,” Johnston said. “There are no drums, and it’s acoustic. It’s soft and mellow, and I’d even say it’s calming for them.”

Patchouli comes south from Wisconsin every winter to play numerous gigs, including local yappy hours. Their music seems to soothe both dogs and humans.

Phineas wears a Rasta wig while he sits in a chair at The Pub, one of more than 30 pet-friendly businesses at the Mercato. Costumes are welcome for both dogs and humans at Woofstock.

“Dogs are really good judges of character — better than anyone else — so what keeps the dogs happy will be the kind of music we choose,” Hecksel said. “Since we commonly play in outdoor festival environments, we’re used to switching our music based upon who walks by.

“You can see what makes them relaxed or happy, which is most of our music,” he said. “Our music is pet-friendly because they can tell we’re coming from a happy place, and dogs love Julie and her voice no matter what.”

Intent

Hecksel said he also believes that the dogs sense what kinds of music make their owners happy, and this in turn makes them happy. He said he also thinks dogs pick up upon the intent of the musicians.

Woofstock takes place on the lawn outside of The Pub and Masa restaurants at the Mercato.

“Dogs are reacting directly to emotion without the bother of having to interpret the language,” he said. “They can tell what basic intention is coming from the band, and if it is a good intention, they react positively because they are sensing things in a primal way.

“Obviously, the music isn’t bringing them back to the ’60s,” he said. “They’re reacting directly to the sentiment of the artist rather than the content of the music.”

Julie Patchouli agreed that dogs react well to music. She said she once had a band dog who insisted upon sitting in the middle of her group of musicians during band practices.

“I think animals really respond to music, and it makes them happy,” she said. “They can totally sense the vibration of good music.”

She added that Woofstock is a particularly pleasant venue for dogs and humans alike.

Woofstock provides a great chance for dogs and their humans to enjoy the sunshine and take in an outdoor concert.

“There’s a lot of other things besides music,” she said. “There are dog treats and human eats, and it’s just a fun family afternoon where everybody can come.”

Pre-party

This year, the Humane Society Naples has added a preparty at the shelter on Wednesday, where organizers will have everything set up to create tie-dye as costuming for the concert.

A variety of adoption organizations will be showing pets available for adoption at Woofstock.

Participants purchase T-shirts and bandanas bearing the Woofstock logo and have the fun of getting to tie, dip and dye while the shelter staff takes care of clean-up afterward.

Connect with this writer: @LauraTichySmith (Twitter)

If you go

What: Woofstock tie-dye pre-party

When: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16

Where: 370 Airport-Pulling Road North, Naples

Cost: $15 T-shirt; $5 bandana

Fourth annual Woofstock

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, March 20

Where: Mercato, 9132 Strada Place, Naples

Driving tip: Located on U.S. 41 just north of the intersection with Vanderbilt Beach Road.

Cost: $5 admission; children 10 and under free; pets free

Info: 643-1555; facebook.com/HSNaples

Schedule: 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Patchouli; 1-3 p.m. Kraig Kenning

Vendors: Additional booths available; contact events@hsnaples.org

Suggested: Beach chair or blanket, sunscreen, sun hat, insect repellant, light jacket, camera, cash in small denominations to purchase food, CDs, souvenirs and raffle tickets

Not allowed: No coolers

Door prize

Donate any item on this list to enter the drawing for a $250 Mercato experience gift package.

Unscented cat litter, bleach, liquid dish and laundry detergent, paper towels, glass cleaner, disinfecting wipes, extra-large trash bags, 13-gallon kitchen trash bags, disposable cleaning gloves, bath size towels, canned puppy/kitten food, canned dog/cat food, monetary donation