Wieners take all at Northeast Ohio Dachshund Picnic

Dorothy, also known as “Le-Bone James” dresses up as a “Cava-Weenie” for the picnic’s costume contest.  

Jenna Kuczkowski

With tiny tails, short legs and long bodies, well over 300 dachshunds of all shapes, sizes and colors gathered in Plum Creek Park Saturday afternoon to celebrate the Northeast Ohio Dachshund Picnic.

Since the annual event began in a backyard in 1998, it has since grown to host as many as 900 patrons and their dogs over the years.

“This is our first time being exposed to so many different kinds and breeds of dachshunds,” said Greg Wilson, a festival attendee who drove five hours with his wife from Connersville, Indiana, to attend the festival. “It’s also a great chance for our two dogs to get to socialize because they’ve only met maybe two or three other dogs in their lives so far, so this is a big deal for them.”

One of the goals of the festival is not only to bring dachshund lovers together, but to promote dachshund rescue.

The two main organizations represented at the picnic each year are Coast To Coast Dachshund Rescue and Dachshund Rescue of North America. Both groups work to rescue and give a permanent home to dachshunds in need across the country.

This year’s festivities included food, dog-themed vendors and the traditional dachshund costume contest.

Dozens of dachshunds and their owners competed in four costume categories: best male, best female, best group and grand champion.

Brian Geiger, who has worked the picnic for 15 years, helped judge the contest. He said he looks for creativity, originality and attention to detail in the costumes. 

“Homemade costumes are always better than store-bought ones,” Geiger said. “It’s even better when families get the kids involved to be a part of the costume.”

The winner for best male went to Susan McCutcheon, who dressed her dog Piddler as the late musician Prince.

This year’s picnic marked the fifth year McCutcheon and Piddler attended the event, as well as competed in the competition.

“Piddler has won best male the last four years in a row, so we really like doing this,” she said. “He’s also the most patient dog ever; He’ll stay posed as long as you need him to (or) as long as we have treats for him.”

Megan Blake took home best female for her dog Daisy, who was dressed as the “Bride of Dach-ula.”

The winners of best group went to a collection of dogs dressed as ice cream.

The Grand Champion of the costume contest was Canton residents Matt Kurtz and Anya Antonavich  with their dog Dorothy as a “Cava-Weenie,” better known as “Le-Bone James” as the sign next to her indicated.   

This year marked the third time the couple two has competed with Dorothy. Kurtz said Dorothy even won best female last year.

“She doesn’t mind costumes but she’s so shy that she just freezes in front of all these people, which is alright because it looks like she’s posing,” Kurtz said.

Antonavich said the inspiration for this year’s costume came from their love for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Even before they won the championship we were gonna do ‘Cava-Weenies,’” Antonavich said. “But since they won, it’s all the better.”

An award for the longest standard dachshund went to Sophie Steinweg, whose dog Lily measured at 28 inches. The award for longest miniature went to Rochelle Weiss’ 25-inch pet Nacho.

There were also awards for oldest dachshund, which went to Brittany Ludwig with her 16-year-old dog Hanz.

Attendees travelled from more areas than just around Ohio; Dachshund enthusiasts from Michigan and South Carolina were present, and the prize for furthest traveled went to Lauren Othoff, who journeyed from Arizona with her dog Redd.

Contact Jenna Kuczkowski at [email protected]