Dogs make a splash at the Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience

Kayakers, cyclists, climbers, and more take part during outdoor event at Eastwood MetroPark.

Trooper, Canyon, and Charger were the stars of the show Sunday during the Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience at Eastwood MetroPark.

The Sunday event kicked off seeing whose dog could make the farthest leap off of a stage into a nearby pool during the Dock Dogs event as viewers cheered on canines both eager and hesitant to make a splash.

Canyon leaped more than 20 feet during the competition.

“We’ve been doing this for 17 years,” said Bill Helfer, who owns the black Labs with his wife, Nina. On Sunday, they drove from Heath, which is about 30 miles east of Columbus, to participate in the event, but they travel all over similar events are held to have fun with dogs and meet new people with similar interests.

“As soon as we’re done here, we’re hitting the road west to Dubuque, Iowa for the world championships,” Bill Helfer said. “It’s just fun, and you meet so many great people.”

Their dog Charger is also a runner and participated in the afternoon speed retrieve event. Two years ago, Charger was the fifth fastest Labrador in the world in speed retrieve, Bill Helfer said.

“This is a great event,” Nina Helfer said. “Having a crowd like this is amazing.”

Mike’s Bike Park, a sponsor for the Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience, was set up in the Youth Adventure Zone, where kids could ride on a bike track, an example what they offer at their large indoor riding facility on First Street in Dayton.

“We do this times a hundred inside every day,” said Mike Bisig, owner of Mike’s Bike Park. “We love everything that this event encapsulates. We love community, we love supporting outdoor activities.”

Fishermen were also out teaching the next generation how to get started in the activity. Gary Roberson, owner of Fisherman’s Headquarters, was among the people teaching kids how to fish on Sunday, and he said they had a busy booth that weekend.

Nearby, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) had a large tank as an educational display of fish that had just recently been collected out of the Eastwood lake, including common carp, black crappie, flathead catfish, gizzard shad, quillback, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, and a koi fish, which is type of common carp.

“We’ll take them back today,” said Lillie Daniel, a volunteer for ORSANCO from Hebron, Ky. Daniel said the koi fish they caught was likely a pet someone had released.

“You can find all of these in the Ohio River,” Daniel said about the other native fish.

In addition to dog events, fishing, and cycling, the outdoor event also featured kayaking, a rock climbing wall, zip lining, and different bike demonstrations.

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