Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 Saluda Coon Dog Day

The enthusiastic crowd in downtown Saluda on July 9
AKC sanctioned awards
If its early July, then it's time for the Coon Dog Day parade and festival in Saluda, North Carolina. In 2016, the emphasis on coon hounds was diminished and new focus went to entertainment. The day still begins with a 5K race at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, followed by a parade at 11 a.m. but several other changes seemed to alter the longtime formula for Coon Dog Day success. Light rain on Friday evening and heavy cloud cover on Saturday morning provided some heat relief, before full sun on Saturday afternoon allowed fishing time for mountain trout.

Representing .... a Good Time!
In contrast to the changes in 2016, was the Saluda Sittin' and Sippin' Society celebrating 120 years of heritage. Their familiar slogan God Bless The Summer People refers to the family and friends from Charleston that spend time in Polk County and Western N.C. each summer. This group actually constructs a float for the parade each year, but other entrants often just drive an old car or tractor, or perhaps simply decorate a golf cart - all of which adds up to one heck of a show. Lots of people turn up each year for this fun small town parade, and perhaps 10,000 were present in 2016.

The Coon Dogs were penned up in 2016
The influx of vehicles on Coon Dog Day is part of the reason that some changes were made, including moving the traditional coon dog aggregation point from a nice greenspace, in order to now park cars there. The coon dogs were moved to a more central location, but the size of the area they occupied was a hindrance, as it served to keep the dogs hot and not in good shape for the 3 p.m. treeing contest. Furthermore, the addition of carnival rides for kids nearby, meant that exhaust fumes were wafting uphill and into the coon dog area. Their was an AKC bench show for coon dogs in this area that worked out well, but overall I'm not sure if visitors like the location change.

In other changes, Miss United States from S.C. was on hand to lead the parade and then to meet with folks during the day, before then announcing the live band at 7 p.m. Saturday night. This night always featured a square dance in the past, which was warmly received by those seeking a taste of mountain life. I know for a fact that many were discouraged about the cancellation of the square dance, but this change may be a better fit for young people, which was the main demographic to enjoy the concert. During the day, a bagpiping corps from Pensacola, Florida entertained the parade route crown. 

Bagpipers from Pensacola in Saluda!
I drove this jalopy in the parade
The word is getting out about Coon Dog Day since folks from Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, Michigan, Arkansas and Texas were in the crowd. In past years the banners read Welcome Hunters and Families - but now they read Welcome to Saluda! Seems the old traditions may fade away over time during Coon Dog Day, but any other visit to Saluda will reinforce that this is still a quaint community with deep roots. The local preservation committee will be holding a fundraiser on July 24th at The Orchard Inn to fund the restoration of the Saluda Historic Depot in town, and cheers to their success!

To read past blog entries about Coon Dog Day click on 2013 - 2012

To view past blog entries from Saluda click on Arts Festival Nature Notes - Green River barbecue - Green River Games - Saluda Tailgate Market

To view past entries from the Grand American and Coon Fest click 2016 - 2015- 2014 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

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