BarkFest! What is it? For those that are unfamiliar, BarkFest is an annual dog festival hosted by BarkBox. It is held each year in New York. This was the second year for BarkFest.
We heard and saw lots of grumblings about the price. Last year, the festival was free. This year the general admission price was $40.00 with a VIP price of $55.00 per person. Since Bruce Wayne is an affiliate for BarkBox, I did get a free VIP admission bracelet, however, I still had to pay for any guests that we brought with us. I completely understand why people were upset about the price. It was a huge jump from free to $40 or even $55.00. On the other hand, I also understand why BarkBox charged an admission fee. Personally, I’ve never been to any dog festival that was completely free. Usually, the admission price is within the $10 - $20.00 range. I cannot imagine the costs of permits in NYC, along with hiring security, staff, bands, etc. Also, let’s be real, BarkBox is a company; companies host events to make money. I did appreciate that the VIP bracelet came with 2 drink tickets.
The lines. Oh my gosh, they were long! We did not participate in any of the activities or get any food because the lines were so long. If I had a bigger dog that was super active, I may have waited in the lines, but being that Bruce Wayne rather nap than participate in any of the activities, we opted to not participate. The activities they did have included a ball pit, putt-putt golf, agility course and a few other small activities. There was also an art station that was doing free sketches of your pup, but by time we go there (4:30 p.m.) they had already stopped taking “orders” since they were already hours behind, so that was a bit disappointing.
No vendors! I couldn’t believe it when the staff worker told me they weren’t selling any BarkShop toys and had NO vendors especially when the BarkFest email stated that we would be able to purchase limited-edition toys and toys from previous BarkBoxes. A staff worker stated that their reasoning is that they wanted to make it a festival about the dogs and not try to be a pushy selling festival. While I appreciate their efforts to not turn the event into one big shop, I was highly disappointed that we couldn’t buy any toys, as I was especially looking forward to buying toys for Bruce Wayne.
Friends! I got to meet so many of our Instagram friends in person! We love getting to meet fellow dog lovers that we “talk” to daily. We have never been to a dog festival that has allowed us to meet so many fellow Instagram friends at once. The power of a BarkBox festival ranges very far. We have friends in DC that we haven’t met yet, but go figure, we met them 3+ hours away in NYC! I can guarantee we wouldn’t have any friends driving hours away to come to one of our County dog festivals.
The Drinks. Many dog festivals that we go to do not have alcoholic beverages. This probably isn’t a big deal to many, but for me, I like to have a drink when I am out and about so this was a bonus! As I stated earlier, the VIP admittance came with 2 drink tickets, which I’ve come to learn that drinks in NYC are expensive! The VIP drinks were all made with Tito’s Vodka, which I had never tried (as I do not drink much vodka), but they were delicious and now I have another drink to choose from when I do go out.
The Weather. Thank gosh BarkBox moved BarkFest up to spring this year. Last year, it was held in the dead of summer and boy was it hot! It was so hot that we didn’t even make the trip, as I didn’t want Bruce Wayne out in the sweltering heat. This year, the weather was beautiful. The rain held out and the skies were gorgeous.
The vibe. It’s hard for me to explain this one. Unless you’ve been to other local dog festivals, you won’t really understand what I mean. BarkFest is big and you can tell BarkBox put a lot of money into each station and the overall festival itself. We’ve been to a state pet expo and a few local dog festivals and they don’t compare to the cleanliness and overall look as BarkFest.
Would I go back next year?
All things considered, I would go back next year. The chance to meet and mingle with some of our closest Instagram friends makes it all worth it. I learned a tough lesson last year when I didn’t get to meet up with a dear Chihuahua friend of ours due to the weather while we were in her town. A few months later, she passed away. Sadly, we never know how long we have with our furry friends before they cross the rainbow bridge, so we make every effort to meet everyone we can and BarkFest allows us to meet many friends at once easily. Also, I will be better prepared as to what to expect next year and I believe BarkBox will listen to everyone’s comments and try to make it a better experience for all.
We hope to see you all again next year and we promise not to be late this time! ;-)