WHEELING - Expect to get at least 25 slobbery kisses in celebration of the 25th Annual Golden Retriever Gathering from the sea of golden fur and wagging tails bound to be there.
From 4-6 p.m. Sunday, the yearly Golden Retriever Gathering will be at Oglebay Park's Levenson Shelter, an event that has brought together more than 200 golden retrievers and 400 owners in the past for a canine "family reunion."
The gathering is a unique chance for golden retrievers and their owners to swap stories, see all the different goldens with coat colors ranging from the lightest straw to deepest copper, and possibly meet up with siblings from the same litter.
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Preparing for the 25th Annual Golden Retriever Gathering at Oglebay Park Levenson Shelter, from left, are Dan Willming of Wheeling with Norman, Tom Bever of Wheeling with Ranger, Christy Cianelli, Amelia Cianelli, 11, Bailey Cianelli, 8, and Faith Cianelli, 7, all of Wheeling, with Iggy Pop.
"That's the thing about golden retrievers, they're all different but they're all the same somehow," Barb Farmer, event coordinator, said. "They all want to be around people."
According to Farmer, the Golden Gathering began 25 years ago when R. "Scat" Scatterday wanted to keep in touch with the litter of his two golden retrievers Sam and Candy, so he threw a reunion party for the dogs. Since then, the gathering has been a way for those with golden retrievers or an interest in the breed to come together and share their mutual fascination with goldens. After a few years, Farmer took the reins for the event and it has since grown.
"We used to have it behind the Oglebay Mansion, but it grew so large that we ran out of parking spaces," Farmer said. "At times we've had hundreds of goldens."
Though the gathering is a blast for the owners, Farmer insisted that the event is primarily in honor of the canines they love so much.
"These gatherings are for the dogs, not for us," Farmer said. "It's quite something when these dogs get together. When I come here, it's as if these dogs that are gone, their spirits are still here with these dogs now."
Farmer has been organizing the event for years but has announced that she will be retiring from the job after this year. She said co-organizers Libby and Dan Slater and Erik and Christy Cianelli will take over the event planning for the coming years.
Those without golden retrievers who are interested in the breed are invited to come talk to Golden Endings, a golden retriever rescue organization that will be represented there to answer any questions about adopting a golden retriever.
Admission to the Golden Gathering is free, and snacks and soft drinks will be provided. All golden retrievers who attend the event must be leashed and current with their vaccinations.