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Dog Mart 1950s
Visit the Photo Place
By Jennifer Strobel
By JENNIFER MILLER STROBEL
PARTING WITH THEIR pups was such sweet sorrow for these Fredericksburg girls that a visiting New York City photographer was moved to record the moment for a national magazine named This Week.
This particular week was in 1955, after the town's Dog Mart, an autumn tradition dating to colonial times.
The unnamed caption-writer stated that Fredericksburg was a great dog- raising town, as evidenced at the annual Dog Mart where "surplus pups" were auctioned off.
"Inevitably, this fair has a few tears mingled with joy," according to the text accompanying the photo of Judy Mills with her big sister, Gloria.
The writer reported, "Dad said these two girls had too darn many dogs, so their cocker pups had to be put up for auction."
The girls' father, Rudolph Mills, who lives in Spotsylvania County, shared the magazine page as a timely reminiscence of the Dog Mart, still going strong under the auspices of the Fredericksburg-Rappahannock Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America.
The 2012 Dog Mart will take place Saturday, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Izaak Walton League park, 12400 Herndon Road in Spotsylvania County. The 125-acre property is about 13 miles west of the city of Fredericksburg.
"They are good memories," Mills said of the days his family attended the mart, a popular event then held in Maury Stadium in Fredericksburg.
The year the photo was taken, Snooky, the Mills' black cocker spaniel, had given birth to a litter of puppies just in time for adoption at the dog mart. The dog auction was a tradition begun years before by colonists and Native Americans who met to trade goods in the Fredericksburg area.
In the 20th century, other attractions were added, including a parade, turkey calling, fiddling contests and dog shows for anyone who wanted to enter their pets.
Snooky never walked in the show ring, but plenty of her puppies paid brief visits to the Dog Mart on their way to new owners.
"Oh yeah, I can remember. I can remember parting with lots of puppies and crying my eyes out. It was my first lesson in letting go," Judy Mills Brooks said in a phone interview.
WHAT, WHEN: Dog Mart, Saturday, Sept. 29, 12400 Herndon Road, Spotsylvania, VA 22553, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date, Sept. 30. HOW MUCH: $5 per car-load. MORE: Sponsored by Fredericksburg-Rappahannock Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America. Darrell Ferrell, a 58-year member, will be master of ceremonies, as he has been for at least 20 years. Billed as the nation's oldest dog event, the Dog Mart dates back 314 years, according to the event flyer. DETAILS: This year's fun includes barrel train rides; food cooked by chapter members; dog judging contest; dog demonstrations; displays; vendors; dog rescue clubs; dog trading; hunting dog displays; falconry; karate demos; fingerprinting for kids; fishing rodeo for kids; sheriff dog demos; Manahoac Bowmen archery club; Boy Scout displays; Young Marines display; Civil War reenactors; World War II displays, fire engine Company 7; a patriotic ceremony at noon with Boy Scout Color Guard, Virginia Dickerson singing the National Anthem, and speakers Col. T. Scott Lloyd, U.S. Army, retired, and Sen. Bryce Reeves. MORE: Contact Darrell Ferrell, 540/373-4600 or see fredericksburgdog mart.com.