Riverfest attracts crowds to Animas, Berg parks

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — Melissa Sligar remembers riding on the back of a bike as her mother, Rose Sligar, pedaled along the Animas River trail in Animas and Berg Parks during Riverfest when the annual celebration was a new event.

Contestants try to entice their dachshunds across the finish line during the wiener dog races at Riverfest on Saturday at Berg Park.

"It was kind of neat to see (Riverfest) get better and better," Rose Sligar said today during Riverfest .

Riverfest began Friday and will continue Sunday in Animas and Berg Parks in Farmington.

Melissa Sligar's daughter, Amaiya Blackwater, 8, joined them this year.

Visitors to Riverfest head down the Animas River on May near Berg Park.

"It's basically a family tradition," Melissa Sligar said.

While Amaiya enjoys the craft opportunities at Riverfest, Melissa and Rose Sligar's favorite part is the wiener dog races. Rose Sligar and her husband, Michael Sligar, entered two dachshunds in the race — Cry Baby, also known as C.B., and Junior.

The race is something the family takes very seriously. C.B. has won the "biggest wiener" prize and it is not uncommon for the two dogs, who have raced for the last three years, to take first or second in their heat. This year, Junior won his heat, and C.B. took second in his heat.

"He loves to race," said Rose Sligar about Junior. "I taught him to just focus."

James Scoggins, 3, of Farmington goes for a ride on the reverse Bungee cord attraction during Riverfest on Saturday at Animas Park.

The sheer number of dachshunds and dachshund owners was a surprise for Angie Peter, who entered her 11-month-old puppy, Hank, in the race.

Peter wore a blue shirt that said "Anyone can be a mother, but it takes a special someone to be a dachshund mama." The shirt had Hank's picture on the back.

"They have such unique personalities," Peter said about dachshunds.

While she has lived in San Juan County for 18 years, Peter had never before attended Riverfest, and the wiener dog race was the reason she attended for the first time, along with her tan dachshund with a white chest and one blue eye.

Bill Donohue holds Tucker, his 1-year-old dachshund, after he ran in the wiener dog races during Riverfest on Saturday at Berg Park.

"He needs to be around friends, and there are so many that show up for this," she said.

Dan Giese attended Riverfest for the first time for a similar reason. He entered his 2-year-old dachshund, Lilly, in the race and the long-haired white dachshund with one black ear and black spots over her eyes competed in the same heat as Hank. Giese said he entered her in the race because it is good for her socially.

When the gates opened, Lilly immediately began to socialize with the other dachshunds. Meanwhile, after an initial distraction by the other dogs, Hank ran to Peter, who was waiting on the other side of the pen, finishing second in his heat.

Alisia Valerio, 7, of Aztec, runs the gauntlet of water squirters during Riverfest on Saturday at Berg Park.

"It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be in terms of dachshund turnout," Giese said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.