The Best Dog- Friendly Summer Festivals

Posted by Billy Francis

Pups and people who love music, food, art and building community can attend these pet-friendly summer festivals that welcome the whole pack to boogie, unwind and soak up good vibes.

Bluegrass Pugfest

Louisville, KY
“This is my crowning moment!” Photo by Pugfest

Benefiting Bluegrass Pug Rescue, Bluegrass Pugfest showcases a variety of pet vendors across a 40,000-square-foot event space. Pugs and pals can participate in silent auctions, raffles, demonstrations, wellness discussions and more during a gathering in their honor. The event also features rescue booths and competitions for Pugs in attendance like nail biting races, liplicking custard eating contests, incredible talent shows and, of course, the crowning ceremony for Pugfest King and Queen.

Bluegrass Pugfest will be held on June 1 and 2. Tickets for adults are $8 and dogs enter free. SureStay Plus by Best Western Louisville Airport Expo is a popular pet-friendly hotel for Pugs and other breeds during a visit to Louisville.

Woofstock: Dog-Friendly Food & Beer Festival

Kennebunk, ME
“Sun is shining - weather is sweet!” Photo by Animal Welfare Society

You and your pooch are invited to raise money and a glass for the Animal Welfare Society at Woofstock: Dog-Friendly Food & Beer Festival. This lively celebration is the “pawfect” event for people who want to combine a love of dogs, beer and food with like-minded folks. Join revelers in jamming out to live music, grab a snack for yourself from a food truck and a treat for Fido from one of the vendors, take part in dog agility events and even snag something at one of the giveaways.

Woofstock: Dog-Friendly Food & Beer Festival is a free event on July 27. Spend the night at the Lodge at Kennebunk, which features grassy areas on the property and a hiking trail nearby.

Bark by the Bay

University Place, WA
“Barkin’ with bae.” Photo by

Bark by the Bay welcomes the canine community of Puget Sound to wander the rows of vendors, win exclusive giveaways and take part in training and agility demos. Don’t forget to sign your pup up for the Parade of Breeds and win prizes in the costume contest, then sniff out goodies in a treat hunting game or create a paw print painting. When it’s time to let off steam, he can play with other pups in the off-leash areas with water zones to cool off in. If Fido can spare food or treats, bring them along for the Puget Sound Pet Food Bank.

Bark by the Bay is a free event on July 13. Fido can enjoy some me-time during his stay at Chambers Bay House in the Trees and let loose at Chambers Creek Regional Park Off Leash Areas.

Pickin' On Picknic

St. Clair, MO
“Did you bring an actual picnic?” Photo by

Pickin' On Picknic claims to be the “best family-friendly bluegrass music fest in the Midwest,” and this extends to furry members of the family, too. Located in a 52-year-old walnut grove along the Meramec River called Lost Hill Lake, this is one of the most scenic festivals in our roundup and boasts beautiful bluffs, rolling hills and river access for you to go tubing with your pooch. The festival features vendors, workshops and the best of bluegrass on the stage. After sunset, gather around the bonfire and enjoy Pickin’ jams with some of the headliners.

Pickin' On Picknic runs from July 11-14 and tickets start at $50. Festivalgoers are welcome to go glamping with a Goldendoodle at Lost Hill Lake. Enjoy the great outdoors without “ruffing it” and relax in a glamping tent after touring the property grounds.

West Fest Chicago

Chicago, IL
Festivals bring people and pups together. Photo by

West Fest takes over Chicago Avenue on the hip West side of the city for one weekend each summer. Dogs are welcome to wander through the rows of tents as long as they are leashed and don’t mind the crowds listening to local bands, national touring acts and big-name DJs. Your pooch may prefer to join the rest of the Chicagoan canine crew at the dog-centric Pet Fest. After donating to the local shelter, dogs will discover an agility course, a mud pit and paw painting, among other activities. Fido shouldn’t be afraid to get messy; they even have a charity dog wash on site.

West Fest is a free event that takes place from July 12 to 14. While there’s no charge to attend, a suggested donation of $10 goes towards supporting the festivities. Stay in a pet-friendly room at Hyatt House Chicago West Loop and enjoy the entire festival together.

Maine Lobster Festival

Rockland, ME
"No, it's not an identity crisis." Photo by

There’s only one place for canine fans of rock lobsters to visit this summer, and that’s the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. This fantastic five-day event is a big hit among locals and visiting pooches who love tasting different varieties of the beloved crustacean. Beyond the star (ingredient) of the show, the festival also hosts entertainers, cooking contests, carnival rides, and local arts and crafts. There are even races held annually in which dogs and their owners can participate together. Leashed pups can wander alongside their humans and enjoy a few scraps of lobster (in moderation, of course). As a bonus, some of the money that you splash will go toward supporting good causes like local food pantries.

Maine Lobster Festival is a free event taking place from July 31 to Aug. 4 in Rockland Harbor Park, Maine. If you want to keep eating lobster, book a room at 250 Main Hotel and head back for more the next day.

Rockbridge Festival

Buena Vista, VA
The world’s furriest fiddle at Rockbridge. Photo by Dennis Slifer

David Lynch once described Rockbridge as “Virginia’s best-kept secret.” This pet-friendly event at the end of summer gives talented musicians who typically don’t fill stadiums a unique stage where they can strum, pick and play their way into people’s hearts. It’s also one of the better options on this list if your dog doesn’t like crowds; intimate and sparsely attended compared to other summer music festivals, Rockbridge gives your pup plenty of room to stretch her paws.

Rockbridge Festival is held at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, VA, near the Blue Ridge Parkway and just five miles east of Lexington. The two-day event happens September 6 and 7 and costs $20 per person. Dogs attend for free. Bring your guitar along and keep the good times rolling at this secluded pet-friendly cabin in Buena Vista.

Are you attending a summer festival with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Animal Welfare Society.