by CJ Vetter
Buda – On April 23rd and 24th, the Lions Club will be hosting its 25th annual Wiener Dog Race in Buda City Park with a grand prize of $500 for first place. This will be the first race since the COVID-19 epidemic began, with the previous two years of races being cancelled due to the virus.
Registry for the event is currently active, with participation costing $25 per dog, with a $5 late fee for registry the day of. For those whose dogs might not have been on their a-game, there is an option for their dachshund to have another shot; for $10, the hound can be placed into the next available race. In addition, if you’re afraid that your pooch isn’t quite up to snuff to be a purebred weenie dog for the onsite veterinarians, there is also a mixed breed race available. No medical documents will be required on registry, but owners will be expected to provide them if necessary.
There will also feature the Saber Guild, a Star Wars inspired recreation group, and musical performances by The Merles and Western Express. In addition, the event will also be an International Barbeque Cookers Association certified contest. Food will be provided by different vendors, alongside numerous arts & crafts booths. Parking will be provided in limited capacity at Buda City Park, and Cabela’s Sporting Goods; buses will be provided for those who park at Cabela’s. Lions Club members Charles and Nancy Handrick are two of the volunteers helping get the races up and running.
“We have put the information out there, and she said she has a little over a 100 dogs registered already, and that’s preregistration. So, on the day of, we have a lot of walk ups,” Charles Hendrick said.
The history of the Buda Wiener Dog Races traces back 25 years, after one of the Lions Club members witnessed a Wiener Dog race elsewhere; inspired, the club member took the idea back to her Buda club and organized the event. The race quickly gained the attention of the public after CBS journalist Bill Geist did a story over it, and soon, it grew from a 35 dog race to an over 400 hound destination for dachshund lovers nationwide. While the number of wiener dogs participating has gone down since then, and the past two years were skipped, the club is eager to get things started again. The races, which are done with four to five hounds at a time, can get competitive with strict regulation in place.
“For us, we put them in the back of the box, and you come around to the front of the box. You get your pups attention; then we’ll ask the owner to back up 70 feet, and then 15 feet further back, so long as you keep your dog’s attention, and with one of the stipulations being no real food in the race track,” Charles Hendrick said. “The true racers that come there that are racing for the money, they have their dogs trained, and have been training. I’d say about 90 percent of them are here for the atmosphere.”
The Lions Club has had some losses however, with the most noticeable being the passing of James Michael (Mike) Huckaby in February this year. Huckaby, in addition to being a double purple heart decorated veteran, had been the announcer for the Wiener Dog race for the past 24 years, and was a founding member of the Lions Club. Huckaby even had his life celebrated in Buda City Park, the location of the annual race. Another member of the club who helped organize the event, Keith Cooper, also passed away. Huckaby’s successor will be Keith Handrick, son of Nancy and Charles.
“Every day he lived his life to the fullest.” Nancy Handrick said.
The latest race is shaping up to be the most spectacular yet, with a host of new features and time-honored traditions. This year will mark the use of a new pedal operated racing gate, as well as a new poster and theme spoofing the “Lion King”, dubbed the “Wiener King.” The theme itself was developed for the Lions Club by William Marketing, and like previous years’ themes “Wonder Wiener” and “Game of Wieners,” it will be available to purchase on the website as a poster alongside other merchandise. William Marketing also provide the massive first place trophy.
“They love their dogs. Don’t say anything derogatory about the little wiener dogs. This year, this poster, it was hand drawn; well it’s, we didn’t actually hold up a dog, because some lady done called us and told us ‘that is not how you hold a wiener dog,” Charles Handrick said. “Yes ma’am, no dogs were harmed in the making of this poster.”
The Lions Club is an international nonprofit dedicated to helping serve their communities and help those with vision impairments. They also offer services to the blind and diabetic, as well as operating the Texas Lions Camp for children with physical disabilities. For more information, visit LionsClub.org or BudaLionsClub.com