At 'Groovy' Fete, cool cats dig the antics of disc dogs

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PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business – Princeton and Central New Jersey – The Princeton Packet – 06/14/2005 – At ‘Groovy’ Fete, cool cats dig the antics of disc dogs

Lovin’ Spoonful may have been the headliner, but for some, the legendary group was upstaged by a pack of talented dogs.

The Lovin’ Spoonful may have been the headliner at Saturday’s “Groovy” Fete, but the band members were not necessarily the biggest celebrities at the event.

Ballistic Belle, a 4-year-old Texas heeler, is ranked sixth in the world in the disc dog championship. The 2003 and 2004 world finalist has appeared on the Disney Channel and the Discovery Channel, among others, and as part of the halftime show for NFL games. Saturday, she — along with her fellow disc dogs — brought the gig to Princeton Stadium.

Belle, as part of the America’s Best Frisbee Dogs show, was just one of the entertainers at the 52nd annual Fete, sponsored by the auxiliary of University Medical Center at Princeton.

Roughly 10,000 people attended this year’s Fete, said Barbara Allen, auxiliary liaison. Fete Co-Chair Christine Calandra said more people attended this year’s gala than in several years, in part because of the weather. Though it was hot, it didn’t rain — as it had the past three years.

“For three years, I’ve been here and the weather’s not cooperated,” said Barry Rabner, president and CEO of Princeton HealthCare System. “This year, I understand how spectacular it really can be.”

Belle basked in the sunlight and showed off for the crowd of pets and people who turned out for the dog performance. She walked on her hind legs, did back flips as she caught Frisbees, and made a hurdle of her trainer, Bill Camp, in pursuit of a Frisbee disc, all to the Jennifer Lopez song “Let’s Get Loud.”

She was joined by black Labradors Jumpin’ Jack the Maniac and Jumpin’ Jack Jr., both dressed in Superman outfits. As the older Jack pursued the Frisbees, he began to tire. After Jack missed several discs, Mr. Camp noted that the dog — who was rescued in 1997 — is now 11½ years old — close to 80 in dog years.

“That’s why he’s retired,” Mr. Camp quipped. “I’ll probably be in a rest home when I’m that old.”

A younger, larger Jack look-alike, named Jack Jr., came out later. Mr. Camp said the 2-year-old is halfway through his training as a disc dog; previously he was a duck-hunting dog. Smokin’ Smokey, an Australian shepherd, demonstrated to the crowd how to train a dog to catch a Frisbee.

The dogs performed at Clark Field three times Saturday. At 1 p.m., The Lovin’ Spoonful, the headlining band, took the stage at Weaver Track.

“All my life, I wanted to be in a rock band,” said Mr. Rabner, who introduced the band. “But I couldn’t play an instrument and I couldn’t sing, so that was the closest I’ve gotten. It was wonderful.”

The Lovin’ Spoonful played its own hit songs, such as “Summer in the City” and “Do You Believe in Magic?” as well as several other hit songs from the period, such as the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.”

Ms. Calandra said about 2,000 people watched from Weaver Track’s bleachers as the band performed. She said she was impressed and proud to see that, even during that concert, other areas of the Fete remained crowded.

On stages around the stadium, musical groups — as well as local organizations — had their opportunities to shine.

Ed Szemis and Dennis Reisert fenced using epees as part of the showcase of the Call to Arms Fencing Club. Mr. Reisert, who runs the club and is one of the instructors, defeated Mr. Szemis. He said the club has attended the Fete for many years.

“I like the crowds,” Mr. Reisert said. “I enjoy introducing fencing to people in the community who’ve never seen it before.”

The Fete also featured games and crafts for children, such as sand art, bean bag toss and paint twirl. Local restaurants and organizations sold a variety of food, and doctors were on hand to provide free medical advice.

The proceeds will benefit the establishment of a breast health center and the Princeton HealthCare System Foundation.

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business – Princeton and Central New Jersey 2005

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