BARL’s Barkfest makes the move to Exchange Club Park

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Organizers planning for the sixth annual Brookhaven Animal Rescue League’s Barkfest are excited at the new location at the Exchange Club Park.

It would be foolish not to be, especially since “Bark in the Park” will be held April 1.

For the past five years, BARL has hosted the pet-friendly festival in front of Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium at Mississippi School of the Arts. They moved it to the Exchange Club park so festival-goers will have more attractions to enjoy.

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“We thought the rides would add a different aspect to it,” said BARL volunteer and event coordinator Melanie Moak.

The festival kicks off at 8 a.m. with registration for the Wiggle Waggle Walk and Furry 5K Run.  A kid’s one-mile fun run/walk will also take place. The walk begins at 8:30 a.m.

Registration forms for the walk/run are available at PetSense in Brookhaven or online at  Walk/run participant fees are $25 per adult and $10 per child.  Those who register before 5 p.m. today will be guaranteed an official Barkfest 2017 T-shirt, Moak said.

Registration is open at 8 a.m. April 1 at the park, however, the fee is $30 for adults and T-shirts may not be available. The walk/run will start at the entrance of the Exchange Club Park near the livestock barn.

Participants’ dogs may join the fun for $5 per dog.  All dogs must be vaccinated, well behaved and leashed, she said.

Rides start up at 10 a.m. and will run until 2 p.m., with armbands available for $10 for all-day rides. Moak said it’s unusual to have the rides running during the day at the park and she anticipates larger than usual attendance to the festival because of the new location and the added attractions.

Another change will be the availability of debit card machines at the ticket booth for armband and concession ticket purchases, she said.

Tickets for the armbands can be pre-purchased at GT Collision & Accessories or purchased at the Exchange Club Park on the day of the event.

A $30 armband package is also available, but must be pre-purchased. None will be available at the gate, she said. The package includes an armband for all-day rides, 10 tickets for activities and food and an official Barkfest 2017 T-shirt.

The Easter Bunny will be available for photos with kids and pets.  Plastic Easter eggs with candy will be scattered around the park. “Kinda like a big Easter egg hunt,” she said.

Live music will be presented by Nikki Fortson, Tony Norton, Hannah Jarreau, Montana Wise Beeson, Midnight Daze, Carley Lambert and the Soujourners from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. The Gym of Dreams teams will perform several cheer routines for the crowd as well.

A doggy spa will be available for donations. “The doggy spa area is where you can take your dog and have them brushed and have their nails painted and they can rest in the shade,” she said. “It will be in a quiet area to get your dogs away from the music.”

Numerous vendors will be set up selling their wares; and, the Bark Café will be in full swing selling hamburgers, pizza and nachos.  Bake sale items will also be available.

For the second year, GT Collision & Accessories is hosting a car show in conjunction with Barkfest.  Registration forms for the car show can be picked up at their business.  All proceeds will benefit the BARL animals.

“It’s growing,” she said. “I think we’ll have a bigger crowd this year.”

This is one of three fundraisers BARL hosts each year to raise money to pay for spay and neutering and upkeep of the adoption center, Moak said.

The others are the Cat’s Meow rummage sale and the celebrity dinner.

For more information on Barkfest 2017, contact Moak at 601-754-4399 or email