CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Who let the dogs out?
Libby Ballard did -- the wiener dogs, that is.
For the sixth year, Ballard will serve as director of the annual West Side Wiener Dog Race, which will be held Saturday at Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
"I call it organized chaos," Ballard said. "It's just a lot of fun to see how the dogs interact with each other. It's hilarious to watch them 'race.'"
In addition to the races, which are broken up into three age groups, a fetch competition and a costume contest also will be held.
A Best Owner/Wiener theme will be awarded to a male and female dog, along with Funniest Overall Costume and Most Original.
The event is held during FestivALL, an event that celebrates a variety of arts in the area.
"During FestivALL, the city becomes a work of art. Through the costume contest, we provide people an opportunity to be inventive and creative while enjoying a wholesome family day," she said.
While the event's main goal is to create a safe and fun day for pet-loving families, there is a greater purpose, both for the dogs and the community, Ballard said.
The Kanawha County Spay and Neuter Task Force attends the event each year to spread awareness about the importance of population control and offers low-cost coupons for services to pet owners.
Rescue advocacy and adoption groups also attend the event.
The race started as part of a revitalization program for the West Side community, which aimed to bring more positive attention to the area.
"We wanted to bring people here in a positive way and let them see what we have to offer," Ballard said. "We like for them to see the good parts."
Registration begins at 10 a.m. Saturday on the school lawn.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.