By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 23, 2022 at 2:56 PM

The great Milwaukee summer is HERE! Don't miss all of our great coverage on local festivals and happenings. Click here for your full summer line-up! 

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The humans got to have all their festive fun this past summer – now it's the animals' turn with Fromm Petfest, making fetch happen at Henry Maier Festival Park on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Yes, if the puppers have been barkier and the cats have been scratchier than usual, that's because they're begging to go to this free (yes, you heard right: admission and parking are free) day of dog activities, fun play areas, pup cups full of cream, tantalizing treats and much more. 

But just because the cats and dogs are the guests of honor doesn't mean that their owners can't have a paws-itively perfect (or should that be positively fur-fect?) time at this late summer spectacular – one of the final festivals of the season before the temperatures drop and everyone on both two and four legs goes into hibernation. Here are six reasons why Petfest will be a great day for all your good boys – and yourself. (And more info, check out the festival's website.)

1. Fur-ocious amounts of fun 

Which is the greater number: the amount of spots on a dalmachian or the number of fun activities for animals at Petfest? Honestly, hard to tell as the fur festival will load the lakefront with all sorts of ways for pups to get their zoomies out. 

Of course there will be dog parks – two of them, fenced in and perfect for some literally unleashed fun for your pupper. For some more advanced play, however, Petfest will also feature two lure courses – zipping some bait around a green space for your dog to chase – a dock diving pool for furballs expert and amateur to fly off, a 150-foot doggie dash to find out if your pup is the Usain Bolt of good boys, an agility course to show off your dog's smarts and speed, and many other pup-approved elements. 

Whether you've got a big ol' Beethoven dog or a tiny tot of a pup, Petfest has something to entertain, engage and – best of all – tucker them out so they're all nice and ready for naps back home. No wonder this is almost certainly Amazon delivery drivers' favorite festival ... 

2. Fashionable four-legged friends

Forget the Met Gala – we're all about the Pet Gala, as your furry friends can rock their finest fashions at the Petfest costume contest. Open to all attendees, dress up your dogs and cosplay your kittens in costume for a chance to win the grand prize of a six-month supply of food – courtesy of Fromm Pet Food – plus other terrific treats from the festival's sponsors. Early registration is already closed – but contestants can still sign up from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the festival before the haute-couture kittens and canines strut their stuff and steal the spotlight on the main stage at 3:30 p.m. You can't spell catwalk without cat, after all!

3. Cats are cool, too!

Classic dogs, taking all the attention. But your feline friends are just as welcome at Petfest on Saturday! In fact, there's a whole section of the Summerfest grounds made for meowmers: Kitty City, which features a cat cafe area, cat-focused vendors and even an artist creating free cat-icature portraits. It'll be a terrific day for you and your tabby. Look at that: Petfest is the rare thing cats and dogs can agree on!

4. Grab a drink with your doggo

All that activity – or even just watching your pup zoomie through the doggie dash – can make you thirsty. Thankfully, OnMilwaukee's here to help as the sponsor of the Petfest bier garden, where you can steal a swig – and, considering the lovely Lake Michigan backdrop, a scenic selfie with your adorable companion. There will also be several other bar areas scattered around the grounds, all selling "Pup Cups" – aka scrumptuous cups of whipped cream for a tasty dog-friendly refreshment – that will donate a portion of each purchase to Haven Inc., a group that helps veterans with service-connected disabilities to train their own service dogs. Good views, good drinks, a good cause and good company – cheers to all of that!

5. Help a furry friend find its forever home

Sure, you can bring home photos, memories, dog treats, pet-cessories and more from Petfest on Saturday – but why not bring home an actual pet!? On Adoption Avenue, you can meet all sorts of charming cats and delightful dogs from local pet rescues, shelters and non-profits, looking for a forever place to rest their paws. Meet your new best friend and get the process going on making it a connection that goes far beyond Petfest. I mean, how many other festivals can offer an experience that lovely and life-altering?

6. Live it up at one of the season's last summer festivals

In case the sudden chill in the air didn't give it away, we're officially out of summer and into fall. Woof, indeed – but maybe, just maybe, we can pretend that isn't the case for at least one final weekend with the help of Petfest. In addition to its furball-focused festivities, Petfest will offer a live music stage featuring CAROLE and the DV8s, Hergert Family Trio, Delray and Kaleb Woods near the south marketplace. Consider it one final jam session for the Summerfest grounds in 2022. So dance away the summer with your doggo – and when you've both worked up a sweat, enjoy one last chance to soak in the sun and the lakefront sights before the fall freeze starts to set in. 

For more information on Petfest, check out the festival's website – and we look forward to seeing everyone, two-legged and four-legged, at the paw-ty!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.