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'Always something for everyone' at Coon Dog Festival

SALUDA — For a small town, Saluda can really put on a show.

Begun in 1963 as a chicken supper fundraiser for the local Coon Club, the Coon Dog Festival became so popular it has continued long past its original purpose. Coonhounds have a strong association with rural life in the South, and the annual celebration of these highly trained dogs also serves as a journey back to the area’s roots.

Tangie Morgan, a Saluda native and festival organizer, anticipates that the old and familiar will mix with some new features on  Saturday. From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., downtown Saluda will be blocked to thru traffic and opened to the public. Vendors will line both sides of Main Street and live music will provide hourly entertainment.

“My favorite is all the puppies,” says Morgan on her most anticipated part of the festival. “Several coon dog rescue groups will be there so visitors can pet them, or hopefully take one home!” The National Guard Armory will be back with a climbing wall, an addition to the festival that was quite popular last year.

“There’s always something new,” Morgan says of the vendors. “Always something for everyone.” Hand-made bird houses, hand-casted garden stones, and now a “beard oil and balm guy” for those looking to level up their facial hair are just a sampling of many talented local artists to set up shop. Events for kids include face-painting, pedal cars, the parade and Saluda’s newly improved park, conveniently located right beside Main Street.

Classic events such as the American Kennel Club sanctioned Coon Dog Competition, the parade of classic and unique cars (with dogs riding shot-gun), and a 5k run will also be back. In addition, for the second year in a row, the Friday night before the festival features a chicken dinner, live music, and “perhaps even some early vendors” Morgan states. An added evening of food, entertainment and shopping is sure to make an already popular event even better.