Bethesda’s dogs won’t have their day this year.
Strut Your Mutt—a spring event that brings local dogs and their owners to downtown Bethesda for a parade, music and offerings by vendors—has been canceled.
Ken Hartman, president of the Bethesda Chevy Chase Rotary Club, which hosts the event, said attendance had been down for a few years, and the organization decided to shift to other priorities this year.
“We’re taking a year to rethink and retool the event,” he said.
The event is meant “bring a sense of small town back to Bethesda,” Hartman said, and in past years featured a dog parade as well as vendors who catered to pet owners. Music, activities for kids and dog adoptions also played a part in the street festival-style event.
Strut Your Mutt, which had been held annually for about a decade, raised money for the rotary club’s foundation through vendor fees, T-shirt sales and registration fees for the parade and dog talent show, but it never came close to the fundraising of the club’s biggest event: the annual Turkey Chase 10K race.
Of the about $1 million raised in the past five years, Strut Your Mutt only brought in about $10,000 every year, Hartman said. About $800,000 of total funds raised go to YMCA youth and family services, while $200,000 is given to local nonprofits.
Dogs dress up for the Strut Your Mutt parade. Credit: Bethesda Chevy Chase Rotary Club
Hartman said many of Strut Your Mutt’s attendees last year happened upon the event rather than planned to attend. This year the organization is focusing on the 35th anniversary of the Turkey Chase, but might bring back Strut Your Mutt next year, especially if it can find a partner to sponsor the event.
“We just need to reconnect and come back next year a little stronger if we chose to do this event, or find something else that better serves the community,” he said.