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Events for dogs? This weekend is packed in Rochester

The seventh annual Dogs Downtown is Saturday and Little Thistle Brewing's Pup Cup returns Sunday.

Leah Ward, left, and her corgi Loki, play in a kiddie pool of balls with Melesa Glenn, and her dog Silvi, during the Dogs Downtown event on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Paws hit the pavement downtown Saturday and barkers take over a brewery Sunday as Rochester goes to the dogs this weekend.

The Rochester Downtown Alliance is hosting the seventh annual Dogs Downtown and Little Thistle Brewing Co. is bringing back its Pup Cup for the second year.

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Dogs Downtown will feature live music this year with Room for Gray playing in Peace Plaza. The RDA is bringing back a pop-up dog park which was a hit with dogs and their pack humans last year, said Katie Adelman, RDA director of communications.

The event features dog-friendly activities including ball pits, obstacle courses and other activities. It’s also intended to highlight how walkable downtown is for dogs and their humans, Adelman said.

“Downtown is very walkable, even if you wanted to walk your dog to downtown and then go to dogs downtown or walk your dog afterwards, there are plenty of places to go,” she said.


Also new this year will be the Bleu Duck truck, an on-site food vendor which, fittingly, offers a variety of tasty dogs on its menu.

On Sunday, Little Thistle is hosting Pup Cup, a combination of activities and friendly competitions for four-legged friends of the brewery.

The event this year has been shortened to four categories in which people can show off their dogs’ prowess, skill or cuteness.

Dogs and their pack leaders are invited to try to win the crowd’s vote for: Best trick; dog and owner look alike; best wiggle and cutest dog.

AJ Cane of Rochester fits his dog Charlie with a new hat during the Dogs Downtown event on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Little Thistle has made a point to be a welcoming space for dogs, said taproom manager Audrey Robinson.

“We love dogs,” she said. “We keep treats behind the bar.”

Dog-related vendors will be at the brewery. Registration begins about 20 minutes before each event. The cutest dog competition will wrap up about 3:30 p.m. However, Robinson said there is a little “wiggle room” for time and number of entries because it’s the last event.

“I’m excited,” she said about the event. “I’m going to pet too many dogs.”


If you go

What: Dogs Downtown

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17.

Where: Peace Plaza downtown Rochester.

The competition

What: Pup Cup

When: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18

Where: Little Thistle Brewing Co., 2031 14th St. N.W., Rochester.

The Post Bulletin pack's picks

Here's what some pack members of the Post Bulletin newsroom staff are looking forward to at the dog-centered events in Rochester this weekend.


Simon Pieters

Simon the wonder dog Pieters.jpeg
Simon (the wonder dog) Pieters

Breed: Pointer/spaniel mix.

Looking forward to: Simon (the wonder dog) loves to chase a tennis ball. The ball pit pools at Dogs Downtown will likely be a slice of heaven for the springy, medium sized dog.

Sir Pickles Todd

Sir Pickles.jpg
Sir Pickles Todd

Breed: Miniature longhair dachshund.

Looking forward to: The obstacle course at Dogs Downtown includes tunnels. The short-legged, long-haired stately dog will likely enjoy the tunnels which, at ground level, don’t require human assistance to enjoy.

Finch Lange

Finch Lange

Breed: Pit bull, Doberman, Chihuahua, poodle mix

Looking forward to: For most 13-pound dogs, catching a neighborhood cat in a chase is a one-time trick that teaches a lifetime lesson. However, Finch, listening to her pack leaders tell her to “leave it” when she had a cat cornered might be one of the most impressive tricks if she chooses to compete in the “best trick” category at Little Thistle’s Pup Cup Sunday.

Romana Garretseed

Romana 081422.JPG
Romana Garretseed

Breed: Welsh Pembroke corgi

Looking forward to: At only 5 months old, Romana has yet to experience either of the Rochester dog-centric events. As a corgi, she probably could easily clinch the “best wiggle” category at Little Thistle’s Pup Cup. However, as a member of Little Thistle’s extended family, she will likely be disqualified from winning.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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