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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

It’s not surprising that the top dog among all non-holiday festivals in Balboa Park is also the biggest of its kind—anywhere!

cosmos-blog_earthfair-2011_children-with-llamaIt’s not surprising that the top dog among all non-holiday festivals in Balboa Park is also the biggest of its kind—anywhere! Of course I’m talking about EarthFair, which in its 22nd year is still the largest free annual environmental fair in the world.


Promising to draw nearly 60,000 visitors, this Sunday’s EarthFair on April 17 will once again feature more than 350 exhibitors, three live music stages, a kid’s activity area, festive parades, an earth-friendly art show, and yummy animal-friendly food.


Whether you want to learn about organic gardening, preserving the environment, reducing pollution, making your home energy efficient, new trends in green technology, healthy living, or alternative medicine, and my favorites, pet adoption and animal protection services, the EarthFair has you covered.


As always, the event kicks off with a Children’s Earth Parade at 10:30am. All species are welcome as participants are invited to dress up as their favorite endangered ones. Though my kind isn’t exactly endangered, as you can tell if you’ve ever cruised by Nate’s Point Dog Park on a weekend afternoon, I always like to show my support for my fellow fury friends who are losing their homes.


cosmos-blog_earthfair-2011_childrens-paradeProviding additional entertainment throughout the day, the Moon Stage at Park Blvd. and President’s Way will present local contemporary music to get your haunches moving. The Folk Music Stage by the U.N. Building will offer, you guessed it, folk music. And a stage in the children’s area will feature music and storytelling for your entire litter (no pun intended).


For more details on all the activities, getting there, and doing your part to reduce your carbon paw print, visit the San Diego Earthworks website.

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cosmos-blog_balboa-barks-2011-logoThe epically dog-friendly event and charity walk, formerly known as Woofstock, makes its annual return to Balboa Park this Saturday, April 9, from 10am to 3pm. Although it’s been renamed Balboa Barks, this “Day of Peace, Love, & Canine Companions” is still the grooviest Barkapalooza around.

Celebrating the human-canine bond, this year’s Balboa Barks will feature many of the same great activities that drew over 3,000 bipedal attendees to last year’s event. These include demonstrations by the amazing Disc Dogs of Southern California and the Ballistic Racers Flyball Team.

Well-behaved leashed pups in attendance will have a chance to show off their own skills on the flyball course and also play in the K9 Agility Playground. After working up an appetite, your canine friend will especially enjoy some of the delectable goodies offered at the many vendor booths (I’ve got my pack’s back).


General admission is only $7 and free to those who register for the 1.3-mile walk, which gets under way at 9am and costs $35 for adults and $75 for families (visit the Balboa Barks website for details). All proceeds benefit the very worthy Canine Companions for Independence, a local charity that provides free assistance dogs to the disabled. Last year’s event raised $40,000, which buys a lot of dog chow for those hard-working service dogs.

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I’ll admit it, though I’ll probably have my dog license revoked, I like cats. They’re cute, cuddly, make soft purring noises when happy—what’s not to like?


cosmos-blog_maneki-neko_mingei-museumAs if all that wasn’t enough reason to appreciate our fair feline friends, there’s a centuries-old tradition in Japan that holds that cats bring good fortune and drive away evil spirits. Called Maneki Neko, these beckoning cats, with one paw raised, have been represented in various art forms since the 19th century.


And “fortunately,” for anyone who wants to improve his or her luck, a new exhibition at the Mingei International Museum has over one hundred of these talismans of all things good on public display.


Made in wood, metal, ceramic, and even papier mâché, they range in height from one half of an inch tall to well over two feet. Some are highly ornate and others come in colors symbolic of special properties. For instance, gold-colored Maneki Neko are said to help attract money (of course), and white-colored kitties are associated with happiness and satisfaction (ever heard the expression “contented as a cat”?).


The popular cultural icon can be seen all throughout Japan, in homes as well as at the entrances of shops, restaurants, and other businesses where the beckoning cat calls out to potential customers.


So to all my canine readers out there, please think twice before chasing a neighborhood cat that wanders into your yard, because it just might be your lucky day!

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Making my rounds each day, it’s easy to start taking the stuccoed façades, red-tiled roofs, and sculptural details of Balboa Park’s historic buildings for granted—especially as my attention wavers between them and my ground-level business at hand.


cosmos-blog_architectural-heritage-tour_casa-del-pradoFortunately, the Architectural Heritage Tour, presented free on the first Wednesday of the month at 9:30am, is there to fill me in on how this impressive grouping of scenic structures came into being smack dab in the middle of a major metropolitan area and three glorious dog parks.


Led by a member of the Committee of 100, an organization that advocates for the preservation of Balboa Park, the Architectural Heritage Tour is a walking history book—but one with lots of pictures, or at least great photo opportunities! Focusing on the Central Mesa area, the tour reviews each building’s origin, purpose, and architectural features.


The tour also describes how the Park was founded during San Diego’s early days and the two major expositions in 1915 and 1935 that generated the need for new exhibition spaces and gardens. Perhaps more importantly, the tour provides a primer on all the things bipeds can see and do inside each building, making it a great place start for anyone new in town or just visiting.


The tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and meets in front of the Visitors Center entrance, where I can always get a few gulps of fresh water from the doggie dish before embarking on a tour.


If you miss this monthly tour, you can also rent the walking audio tour inside the Visitors Center, which covers the same ground. Just be sure to tell them Cosmos sent you!

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cosmos-blog_science-family-day-2011_doppler-on-wheelsYou don’t need to be Pavlov’s dog to



You don’t need to be Pavlov’s dog to get a first-hand taste of the wonders of science this Saturday when Balboa Park presents its second annual Park-Wide Science Family Day. From 11am to 3pm, more than 20 different cultural institutions will offer an ample selection of fun science-themed activities to satisfy the palettes of all ages as participating museums extend free admission to children 17 and under with a paid adult.


Special this year, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center will introduce visitors to the famous storm-chasing scientist Dr. Josh Wurman and his 26,000-ton Doppler on Wheels—the biggest mobile weather radar to ever visit the Park!—which will be stationed outside the Fleet for all to climb aboard (see photo).


Though I can’t bark about everything else going on this Saturday in the space of this blog, I’ve listed a few highlights below. For a complete list, visit


Japanese Friendship Garden—celebrate spring at the Cherry Blossom Festival


Museum of Man—examine human bones and make a calavera (skull) mask


San Diego Air & Space Museum—make space-themed paper airplanes and fly them in competitions


San Diego Automotive Museum—build cars using LEGOs® and tiny motors


San Diego Floral Association—free butterfly crafts, face painting & butterfly release (1pm)


San Diego Historical Society—participate in a mock archaeological dig


San Diego Museum of Art—hands-on explorations of optical illusions and the science of color


San Diego Natural History Museum—delve into the world of live lizards and snakes


San Diego Zoo (booth on the Prado)—decorate a pot and take home a native plant


Spanish Village—hands-on activities reveal the role of science in art


Timken Museum of Art—free storytelling explores flowers in art (11am only)

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