LAWRENCEVILLE - It's a pug party.
More than 700 pugs - one of the oldest breeds of dogs characterized by wrinkly, short muzzled faces and curled tails - and pug mixes are expected to turn out for a fundraising event in their honor: PugFest 2009.
An annual effort to raise money for the Southeast Pug Rescue and Adoptions, this year's PugFest is expected to draw about 1,500 humans who are invited to parade their pugs - wearing their best costumes - around the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds on Saturday.
Following the pug parade, prizes will be given to the dogs with the curliest tail, most wrinkles and longest tongue, the oldest pug present, the best kisser, the most unique pug mix and the pug that has traveled the farthest to attend PugFest 2009.
Awards will also go to the pugs wearing the best homemade and store-bought costumes.
PugFest is the biggest fundraiser of the year for SEPRA, a nonprofit organization that rescues, fosters and adopts out pugs and pug mixes. Saturday's event will include a bake sale, raffles and a silent auction. Old cell phones and empty, brand name inkjet cartridges will also be collected.
In its 16th year, PugFest began as a small gathering of pug owners who wanted to reconnect with pugs they had fostered and meet their new families.
"(The event) used to take place in a small pasture, and people would bring a covered dish to share and stories to tell," said SEPRA volunteer Randi Tucker. "Now, the fundraiser has grown so much that it takes place at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds and includes catered lunch for sale, pet grooming, pet photos, pet products, people's pug paraphernalia and so much more."
Vendors will be on hand selling art, pug apparel, accessories, embroidered items, food and water bowls, treats, toys and more.
All pets under 35 pounds and older than 4 months with current rabies vaccinations are welcome to attend the event.
SideBar: IF you go
· What: PugFest
· When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
· Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville
· Cost: $6 for adults, and $3 for children younger than 12
· For more information: Call 770-887-9741 or visit www.rescuepug.com