Recap: Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Contest

With an abundance of wagging tails and adorable faces, the first ever Piedmont Park Dog of the Year Contest was a ‘bone’ified hit! Leading up to the in-park contest, almost 80 dogs competed in a photo-based contest online to rack up the most votes on their photo by the July 29 deadline. From dogs in bow ties and sweaters to pups exploring all areas of Piedmont Park, the voting page was so cute that it racked up a total of more than 50,000 votes over the course of one month of voting.

On Saturday, July 29 at 11:00am, the top 12 finalists with the most votes on their photograph that also met the contest requirements (including proof of rabies vaccination and a Piedmont Park Conservancy membership) went into an in-park competition at the Piedmont Park Dog Parks. The Piedmont Park Conservancy in-park competition was hosted by Conservancy volunteer Fred McFarlin,  and guests enjoyed free giveaways including cold water, dog treats, and one free drink for every contestant and viewer at Park Tavern after the show!

The top 12 contestants were all able to earn over 1300 votes on their photographs, ultimately earning them a spot in the finals. Finalists included:

  • Addison, also known as Addie – an 18-month-old Sheepadoodle from Sandy Springs “Oliver Row”
  • Django – a four-year-old Goldendoodle from Midtown
  • Harlow – an one-year-old King Charles Cavalier Spaniel from Midtown
  • Callie – an 11-year-old Goldendoodle from Midtown
  • Kooper – a nine-year-old Vizsla from Virginia Highlands
  • Ponce – a two-year-old Doberman from Midtown
  • Duke – a three-year-old miniature Pinscher (Min Pin) from Midtown Garden District
  • Rocky – a two-year-old Beagle/Blue Tick Coonhound from College Park
  • Rocket – a five-year-old Terrier mix from Reynoldstown/Cabbagetown line
  • Porter – a two-year-old mini-Australian Shepherd from East Lake
  • Sarah – a 10-year-old Golden Retriever from OTP Atlanta
  • Tank – a 14-year-old mini-Pomeranian from Peachtree Battle

At 11:00am, these top 12 finalists found out they were going into the in-park portion of the competition and lined up in the contestant waiting area. Amy Han Dietrich from the Piedmont Park Conservancy then made remarks about how over 700,000 visitors enjoy the Piedmont Park Dog Parks each year, and how the Conservancy thought that was a great reason to host a Dog of the Year competition. Also, Dietrich reminded the viewers that each of the finalists are members of the Conservancy, and how they were all good dogs of the park. The Conservancy utilized this competition to celebrate the frequent use of the dog parks as well as raise awareness that the dog parks are 100% maintained by the Conservancy and relies on private donations from users and corporate sponsors.

Dietrich then introduced the judges:

  • Bridget Matheson from Dog Days Atlanta who donated 3 free days of doggie day care for any of their 3 locations, treats, a toy, and a doogie poop bag to the winner.
  • Bryan Kolton from Bark ATL who donated a food scoop and water bottle to ALL the top 12 contestants, a free day of daycare to the top 11 runner ups, and a Day of Bliss coupon for the winner that’s good a free day of day care as well as a free bath and nail trim.
  • Liz Rupp from Dancing Dogs Yoga Atlanta who donated one month of yoga and a manduka yoga mat to the winner— as well as one week of yoga to each participant.
  • Kalia Edmonds from the Piedmont Park Conservancy
  • Mark Nelson from the Piedmont Park Conservancy

The competition then began with a mini-dog parade that allowed viewers to take their first look at the finalists, and for the judges to rate their behavior.

Harlow

Kooper

Porter

Sarah

Tank

Then each dog was directed by their owner to “sit,” and then had 30 seconds to “free-style” and win over the judges. Free-style acts included laying down, turning, jumping, just being absolutely lovable, and so much more.

Rocky

Rocket

Ponce

Duke

Django

Callie

Addie

Finally after each pup had a moment in the spotlight, the contestants were released in their respectively-sized dog park, and judges watched as they rated friendliness with other dogs.

Finally after much anticipation, Ponce was named the Piedmont Park Dog of the Year! Ponce came up to the stage and briefly held a pose for pictures, but then laid down after his amazing performance in the competition, allowing onlookers to continue taking his picture.

As Piedmont Park Dog of Year, Ponce will hold the status from August 1, 2017 through July 31, 2018. Ponce and her owner Chris Beauregard will help announce the opening of this year’s Splish Splash Doggie Bash on October 7-8, 2017 as well as announce take-off at the Conservancy’s Doggie Dash 5k in the spring of 2018. Ponce will also receive a photo shoot and be featured as the Dog of the Year on Piedmont Park’s social media, dog newsletter and more!

The contest wrapped us with appreciation extended to the contestants, judges, Park Tavern for the post-Yappy Hour, and the Piedmont Park Conservancy volunteers and staff.

Mayoral Candidate Forum on Greenspace

The Piedmont Park Conservancy was honored to be a part of the 2017 Mayoral Candidate Forum Greenspace. The event was on Thursday, July 13th from 6:00pm to 7:15pm at the Georgia State University Student Center. This unique and crucial event was hosted in partnership with several nonprofit partners, all working toward the common goal of maintaining, conserving and building our city’s greenspace amenities: Park PrideTrees AtlantaAtlanta BeltLine PartnershipChattahoochee RiverkeeperThe Nature ConservancyThe Conservation FundPiedmont Park ConservancyThe Georgia ConservancyThe Trust for Public Land, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. The forum was generously sponsored by Cox Enterprises and moderated by Maria Saporta.

Knowing your potential mayor’s views on greenspace is critical to Atlanta’s future. If you missed the event, the Piedmont Park Conservancy encourages you to watch the forum on Park Pride’s Facebook page below, or read the Saporta Report’s recap of the event: Mayor candidates talk equity, vie for green vote, at Downtown Forum

Piedmont Park Field Trip Program Expansion – $25,000 grant from Wells Fargo

Through a generous grant from Wells Fargo, the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s field trip program can now expand! In 2016, the Conservancy saw a 175% increase in field trip attendance resulting in 2,500 students from 38 organizations. To continue the Conservancy’s committee to enriching childhood education, Wells Fargo has granted this funding to aid in part-time support and acquire additional teaching supplies.  Because of this grant, the Conservancy hopes to serve 50% more – an additional 1,250 – students in the coming school year.

The Conservancy believes that Piedmont Park is premiere education destination for fostering environmental stewardship, and uses the Park as an outdoor learning classroom and resource for youth education and the larger community. The Conservancy also features other popular environmental education programming including summer and day camps, counselor-in-training sessions, and hands-on-learning workshops. Appreciation goes to Wells Fargo for empowering the Conservancy’s goals through this grant.

About the Piedmont Park Conservancy
The Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization, is a member and donor-funded organization working in partnership with the city of Atlanta to enhance and preserve Piedmont Park as a vital, urban green space, and as a cultural and recreational resources that enriches the quality of life for all Atlantans. Since 1989, over $66 million has been invested into Piedmont Park through capital improvements raised by the Conservancy. Today, the Conservancy requires over $3 million dollars in donations every year in order to manage and enhance Piedmont Park and its programs.

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $2.0 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,500 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 42 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 273,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 25 on Fortune’s 2017 rankings of America’s largest corporations. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Wells Fargo No. 3 on its most recent list of the top corporate cash philanthropists. In 2016, Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million to 14,900 nonprofits and Wells Fargo team members volunteered 1.73 million hours with 50,000 nonprofits. Wells Fargo’s corporate social responsibility efforts are focused on economic empowerment in underserved communities, environmental sustainability, and advancing diversity and social inclusion. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

What’s All the Buzz About?

The Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project and the Piedmont Park Conservancy have joined forces to establish a beehive right in Piedmont Park. The humming sound you hear nestled under the canopy of trees surrounding the Education Garden is actually home to thousands of the world’s greatest pollinators!

Zipping from flower to flower to collect pollen and nectar, Piedmont Park’s biodiversity offers the perfect environment for these busy little creatures. Not only do our bees play a crucial role in supporting the garden, but their presence affords us with important learning opportunities relating to the interconnectedness of our natural food systems.

On Friday, June 23rd, the Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project visited the Conservancy’s apiary to educate the public on honey bees and participants engaged in a variety of activities that supported healthy bee-friendly initiatives. Onlookers gathered in curiosity as bees hovered around the mesh netting of the beekeepers protective gear during the splitting of the hive. Children crowded around tables to create their very own seed bombs out of clay and wildflower seeds, a fun and environmentally friendly technique for ‘greening’ urban spaces. And, golden colored hexagons overflowing with uncapped honey could be viewed from the observation hive. Providing unique insights into the wonderful world of bees and their behaviors, the complex structure of the honeycomb also reaffirmed bees are quite the builders!

With so much going on, it is no wonder bees are all the buzz these days.

With the garden and honey bees working symbiotically, we encourage all visitors to gain a greater understanding of the environment and one’s connection to it. The Conservancy’s educational programs are a priority for our non-profit and are viewed as an integral part in fulfilling our mission.

Guest Post by Krystal Collier

Landscape Improvement on Piedmont Avenue

Avid runners and walkers of Piedmont Park will notice a vast different on Piedmont Avenue. The Piedmont Park Conservancy just completed a landscaping improvement at the north end of Piedmont Park creating a safer environment for pedestrians to travel along Piedmont Avenue towards the Monroe Drive entrance. The project cleared an immense gathering of brush and collective trash, and the removal of invasive species. Additionally, a decorative wall was installed to add another layer of curbside appeal.

Local jogger Amy says “I am [happy] to see the new section of the park off of Piedmont Avenue. As somebody that runs in that area quite a bit, it’s nice to not only see the sidewalk fixed, but just to see all of the beautiful landscaping.”

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER

A less popular area of Piedmont Park, the former state of the north end was one of the remaining areas that needed vast improvement after the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s capital campaigns. Since 1989, the Conservancy has invested over $66 million into the park, and found the remaining area unacceptable.

“The north end landscape improvement was a natural next step to improving the Piedmont Park experience. We wanted to bring this area up to the expectations of what Atlantans know to be beautiful Piedmont Park,” says Mark Banta, President/CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Appreciation goes to The Kendeda Fund for funding this project. The project was designed by HGOR. The construction was completed by Gibson Landscape. The Piedmont Park Conservancy is in conversation with the City of Atlanta about the completion of the sidewalk improvement surrounding the north end of Piedmont Park.