Inaugural Bark in the Park a success

Lisa Depies
Pet owners and their dogs were able to participate in a mile walk during Tudi’s Bark in the Park fund-raiser for the Henry County Humane Society. The event was held at the Geneseo City Park.?Pictured are, from left: Paula Schulte with Bear, Diane Hartsock with Bruce and Tifany Simosky with Beana.

Runners, walkers and dogs converged on the Geneseo City Park July 18 for the first-ever Tudi’s Bark in the Park event.

“We were happy with our crowd, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect,” said committee member Bonnie Wick.

More than 100 runners participated in a 5K with 50 walkers and dogs taking part in a one-mile walk.

“Everything went well,” said Wick. “We had volunteers along our one-mile route to help break up any squabbles among dogs, but we had none.”

Race organizer Chris Pederson said he heard nothing but positive comments from runners.

“Things couldn’t have been better. We were extremely pleased with everything,”?he said.

Tudi’s Bark in the Park was a fund-raiser for the Henry County Humane?Society in Geneseo. Though final figures aren’t yet available, Wick said she believed it was one of the group’s most successful fund-raisers.

“This is probably the best we’ve ever done for a single event,” she said. “Instead of just asking people for money, we’re providing them with an activity they’ll have a good time doing.”

Tudi’s Bark in the Park was named in memory of the late Tudi Edwards, who was an animal lover. Her husband John, of J.F. Edwards Construction, was the major sponsor of the event.

The event was held in conjunction with Geneseo’s regular Saturday morning Farmers’ Market. Special pet-specific vendors were on hand as well.

“People were able to come and participate or just come and watch,” said Wick.

Event organizers anticipate Tudi’s Bark in the Park becoming an annual event. “The first year is always the hardest,” said Wick. “Next year, I think we’ll be better off because people will know what it’s about.”

Though most race participants were from the Geneseo area, Pederson said the event drew runners from the entire Central Illinois region, and even a few from out-of-state. “We actually had one person here from Connecticut,” he said.

Funds raised during Tudi’s Bark in the Park will go toward the Henry?County?Humane Society’s general operating fund, said Wick.

“We’d like to see this event get bigger and bigger in the future, and eventually be able to pay for several months of general operation,” she said.