July 8, 2017
The tiny town of Saluda (700 residents) welcomes 10,000+ visitors each year for Coon Dog Day. The very fun, quirky street festival in Saluda celebrates the loyal pet used for many years for hunting and known for their unique bark and amazing sense of smell. The celebration held for 50+ years includes a parade, music, street fair with art and food and dog judging. It's about 35 miles southeast of Asheville.
The festivities kick off early at 8 AM on Main Street with the 5K race through town. Live music and vendors start at 9 AM. The parade starts at 11 AM with homemade floats, fire trucks, antique tractors, classic cars, Coon Dog Day King and Queen, and plenty of coon dogs.
The judging starts at 1 PM with the Bench Show for looks and style standing still. At 3 PM is the treeing contest with dogs chasing a fake raccoon. The winner has the most number of barks in 30 seconds. There's also a night hunt on the Friday night before at 8 PM and a big street dance to end the festival on Saturday night.
Dogs are welcome to join in the fun as long as they are leashed. Get your official Coon Dog Day t-shirt at the historic Thompsons Store. More details coming soon!
Parking for Coon Dog Day will be at the Party Place & Event Center at a cost of $10 per vehicle. The parking fee will include shuttle transportation for everyone in the vehicle to and from the festival.
In 1949, the Blue Ridge Coon Dog Association was organized to replenish the local racoon population, which had dwindled to almost nothing. By the late 1950s the club was holding a fundraising barbecue each year on the first Saturday after the 4th of July. Proceeds were used to restock the woods with ‘coons. The popularity of the barbecues, and the success of the “Old Prospector” parade that had celebrated the opening of the Rock and Mineral Museum in 1962, convinced the club to try their own annual parade beginning in 1963. Coon Dog Day was wildly successful, and the event has grown over the decades.