LIMA — The dogs may be out at the former Kenton Coon Dog Trials, but they will still be racing in Lima come Labor Day weekend.
Max’s Water Dog Races is returning to the Allen County Fairgrounds for a second year. The event kicked off in 2009, after the owners of the long-running Kenton event announced they would be shutting the event down for the year. Max and Diane McCluer decided to expand the flea market they had been hosting at their farm and the rest is, as they say, history.
“I was surprised how big it got in just one year. These people want to come back again,” Max McCluer said.
For the event’s first year, McCluer lured close to 900 vendors selling everything from guns to crafts and about everything else imaginable. For year two, he expects to up that number to 1,200 spread throughout the fairgrounds. The event will also include dog races, treeing contests, barnyard bingo and cornhole and horseshoe tournaments.
In January, the owners of the Kenton Nationals announced they would relaunch their event, minus the dog races. The event has been moved up and shrunk down as well. The date has been moved from the week leading into Labor Day to Aug. 13, 14 and 15. The flea market area that once spread out across the grounds will be reeled in to the ground’s original 100-acre area. And the number of vendors has been cut, from a high of more than 1,000 in past years, to a maximum of 424 this year.
McCluer said that announcement caused some confusion among vendors and followers for his event. He’s trying to get word out that his event is on despite the return of the Kenton Nationals and he expects to draw many of the dog enthusiasts who made their way to Kenton over the years.
“I’ve been getting calls from people wanting to know if we’re still on. We’re on and we’re going to be even bigger,” McCluer said.