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Annual PugFest raises money with costume contest and more

IF YOU GO

• What: PugFest

• When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville

• Cost: $8 per adult, $4 for children under 12, all pugs free

• For more information: Visit www.rescuepug.com or call 770-887-9741

LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Saturday, the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds will be taken over by wrinkly, flat-faced toy dogs, otherwise known as pugs, for the annual PugFest hosted by Southeast Pug Rescue and Adoption.

The event began 18 years ago as a celebration for foster dogs who had found a permanent home. Volunteers and proud new pug parents would come together for a picnic in someone's backyard. Now, more than 1,600 people from across the U.S. and their pups come to the festival to surround themselves with other pug lovers and to raise money for a good cause.

"I remember the first (PugFest) I went to was years ago," said Brenda Megel, president of SEPRA and event organizer. "There were about 40 pugs and a handful of people in a backyard -- now look at it."

One of the largest crowds at PugFest will bloom for the two costume contests. The first one is for those who buy an outfit for their pooch while the other is for all homemade creations. Anyone interested in entering their dog can sign up on Saturday.

Early in the day, there will also be other contests in nine categories: oldest, farthest traveled, curliest tail, most wrinkles, most gray hair, best kisser, best trick, most unique pug mix and longest tongue.

There will be a silent auction to raise additional money for the nonprofit. The featured item is a diamond pug pendant. They will also be raffling off an iPad 2 and a queen-sized quilt featuring a pug portrait.

This year, there is a new area called the Kids' Carnival. Young ones have a chance to decorate a dog bowl, eat ice cream, take photos with a pug cut-out and watch some hot-dog bobbing.

"I'm hoping it will be a fun atmosphere for the kids," Megel said. "We'll see how it all pans out."

Organizers encourage all attendees to bring old cellphones and empty brand name inkjet cartridges to the event. They are collecting them in order to raise more money.

Ninety percent of the profits from PugFest go directly to those who foster the SEPRA dogs.

Owners are allowed to bring pugs who are under 35 pounds (but not puppies), are current with their rabies shots and are on leashes. No adoptions or sales allowed in the event.