“Pawesome” Corgi Races return to July 13 Michigan Celtic Festival in Ann Arbor


Celtic athlete “Princess Luella” will defend her championship title at the Michigan Celtic Festival (formerly Saline Celtic Festival), Saturday, July 13 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, Ann Arbor.

Or perhaps she’ll settle for a belly rub and a scratch behind the ears.

Princess Luella—who took first place last year, with Stella in second place and Trixie in third—is one of over 100 Corgis registered for the second Annual Celtic 500 Corgi Speed Championships.

“The Corgi races were a huge hit last year, our first time of hosting them, so this year we’re moving to the large East arena that seats 5,000 people, and holding heats all afternoon,” said Terri Murphy, the Festival’s official Corgi Herder. “These little guys are all amateurs having fun and burning off energy, and providing hilarious moments for our festivalgoers. It’s going to be a lot of fun again, don’t miss it!”

Check-in for the event, partnered with the Michigan Corgi Club and sponsored by Renewal by Anderson, is noon at the ‘Corgi Pits’; all competitors must be checked in by 1:30 p.m. Races begin at 2 p.m., with a heat every 15 minutes, and the final Championship race no earlier than 4 p.m.

Each heat will start with a parade, when emcees will introduce each racer with their two accompanying humans, with pups and people sporting color-coordinated bandanas.

At the start of each heat, one pet parent will stay with their Corgi contestant at the starting line while the other waits at the finish line. After ‘Ready, set, go,’ Parent One will release their pup and it will race 100 feet to Parent Two.

Or such is the intent.

“Last year, many of the Corgis weren’t very good at running in a straight line and were more interested in investigating new smells or playing with one another, than in racing to the finish line and getting a medal,” Murphy said.

The winner of each heat will advance to the championship, with the top three finishers racing for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Hilarious commentary and race calling by the two emcees, Bill “Liam” Lynch and Sparta Celtic Festival President George “Doc” Freeland, added to last year’s fun, and the duo will return to emceeing duties this year.

“I have to admit I’ve emceed a lot of events over the years but never have I played second fiddle to so many cute little four legged fur balls! These doggy divas stole my thunder!” Lynch said. “It was a ‘first’ for both of us, and neither of us realized just how much fun we were going to have! We’ve been looking forward to this year’s Corgi Races since last year. Having Doc as my paw-by-paw commentator was a real pleasure, as it allowed me to watch the crowd and see the enthusiasm they had for this unique event.

“Moving the race to the Arena this year will allow for more people to enjoy the Races. Both the Corgis and the race officials are excited about the expansion. I can't thank the Michigan Celtic Fest enough for renewing our contract for the 2024 Corgi 500 Races.

“My only request is for something other than Milk Bones as snacks in the green room,” he added with a smile.

“The cheers and laughter coming from the audience just added to the gleam in those pooches’ eyes as they crossed the finish line,” Doc Freeland said.

Despite their small size and short legs, according to corgilife.com, Corgis are speedy sprinters over short distances, and can reach speeds of up to 25 mph. Apparently Pembroke Welsh Corgis are faster than the larger-sized Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Welsh Corgis—the name means ‘dwarf dog’—are a cattle herding dog; the Pembroke breed may have come to the British Isles with Flemish weavers in the Middle Ages, while Norse invaders may have brought the Cardigan breed.

Brian Shockley and his team from the Baker’s Nook in Saline will once again sell cookies featuring Corgis (rear view!) as well the Festival’s mascot, Millie the Mill Pond monster, and the Festival’s logo – these sold out very fast last year, so make sure to visit their booth early. Cookies will also be available at the Saline shop in the days leading up to the festival.

The Festival’s music line-up include Seven Nations, Steel City Rovers, Highland Reign, Brother Crowe, On The Lash, Black Murray, Whorled, The Langford Lads, and Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic. Other Celtic fun includes Highland athletics, Highland dance, Wee Folks fun, pipe & drums, Ring of Steel, historical re-enactments, and much more. For complete information, visit mi-celtic.org.

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