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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, FergusFergus writes: Dear Cosmos, My packmates plan to celebrate Oktoberfest this year, but they want to feel safe bringing all the pups in the family. Any tips on fun activities in Balboa Park this year?

Cosmos responds: There’s nothing like Oktoberfest time to bring out the German Shepherd in me. But while beer baths might be good therapy for the treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions, according to Dr. Oz, I generally prefer to keep my coat healthy and shiny through less intoxicating means. Thankfully, two Balboa Park organizations will be hosting family-friendly Oktoberfest celebrations this weekend.

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Oktoberfest 2012, House of Germany, International Cottages Lawn ProgramOn both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, September 22-23, the International Folk Dancers of Balboa Park put on their 55th annual Oktoberfest in the Balboa Park Club. Billed as a “free family event,” the weekend festivities include traditional folk dance performances, free dance lessons for those of us with two left paws, colorful costumes, activities for the kinder, crafts, and the all-important food vendors.

And on Sunday, the House of Germany takes over the International Cottages’ lawn program schedule to present their annual Oktoberfest celebration. The House of Germany’s own Heimatklang Choir provides the entertainment, along with a German brass band and folk dancers.

The food and alcohol-free beverage selection (for a nominal charge) will feature bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad, German cakes, coffee, and lemonade. The activities get underway at 2pm, and since this event is outdoors, leashed hunde of all shapes and breeds are invited to attend (lederhosen optional).

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We’ve been getting some strange reports here at Balboa Park Central that not everyone has a dog and were thus unable to participate in the recent Top Dog Photo Contest. As a result, we have opened up last year’s Kid’s-Eye View Photo Contest to everyone this year—both pups and their breeders—in a brand new contest titled Focus on Balboa Park.

In case the contest name wasn’t entirely clear, I should point out that all entry submissions should focus on Balboa Park. So pictures of your child’s birthday, your vacation in the Bahamas, or your mother-in-law’s Franklin Mint collection will not be accepted.

Fortunately, with over 1,200 acres of picturesque vistas, ornate architecture, lush landscaping, and colorful attractions, there are plenty of picture-perfect subjects in Balboa Park awaiting your keen lens. Animal lovers are also invited to snap photos of their favorite fury friends in the San Diego Zoo. The only caveat is that photos of certain identifiable bipedal mammals (particularly the kind who can hire lawyers) are not accepted.

And in order to ensure youngsters (ages 6-17) did not run off with all the prizes, we’ve created a second prize category just for adults (18 and older) so everyone will have a fair chance of winning.

Prizes include an annual membership (for adults) or summer camp (youth) at the Museum of Photographic Arts, Family 4-Packs of Balboa Park Passports, tickets to the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, and tickets to other Park attractions.

For the complete list of prizes and contest rules, and to submit your entry between now and October 24, be sure to visit and bookmark

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Just because the pups are back in school and Labor Day weekend has passed, my bipedal readers shouldn’t completely give up on summer fun. In fact, this might be an ideal time to see many of this summer’s most popular exhibitions in Balboa Park. But don’t drag your tail too long, as the following crowd favorites close this Sunday, September 9:

Ramp It Up — Speaking of tail dragging (or grabbing or sliding), this unique exhibition on the rich history of Native American skateboard culture features an actual half-pipe inside the exhibition space, available for visitor use.

Hats and Headdresses — Another important heads up on an exhibition that’s closing, this colorful display from the Mingei International’s collection presents a wide array of hats from around the world, from a peasant’s straw hat to ornate ritual headgear (but no fancy doggie chapeaus, I’m afraid).

Titanic — Commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, this blockbuster show at the Natural History Museum included 200 artifacts retrieved from the wreck site, faithful recreations of the ship’s interior, and personal histories of the passengers.

Invention of Glory: Alfonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries — This is also your final opportunity to view four rare monumental 15th-century tapestries that have traveled to the U.S. from Spain for the very first time.

Object Lessons: Francisco de Goya’s Self-Portrait with Dr. Arrieta — Since the Timken Museum of Art is always free, there’s really no excuse to let this masterpiece by Goya leave without saying goodbye.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Top Dog Photo Contest 2012 winner, JediWith Labor Day weekend nipping at our heels, it’s a busy week here at Balboa Park Central. For that reason, I’ll be making two important (though not totally unrelated) announcements in this post.

First off, I would like to extend a sincere, yet green with envy, congratulations to the winner of this year’s Top Dog Photo Contest, Jedi. Not only does that lucky dog get to reign supreme as Balboa Park’s most photogenic alpha for an entire year, but he will also enjoy, with the family members of his choosing, a deluxe overnight stay at Loews Coronado Bay Resort. There, he will be treated to their exclusive Su’ruff Camp package, with doggie surfing lessons and other chewable amenities.

I should also give a bark out to our two runner-up vote hounds, Delilah (second place) and Lucky (third place), as well as to every human companion who submitted a photo to this year’s contest and everyone who voted!


12-Hour Organ Marathon Supports Disabled Vets

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Organ Concert Marathon, Operation ReboundWhile visiting the many Labor Day weekend exhibitions and events in Balboa Park this weekend, be sure to stop by the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Sunday, September 2, for a special 12-hour marathon concert (you don’t have to stay the entire time!).

Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams, a great supporter of canine-kind through her annual Bark in the Park event, will be performing from 8:00am to 8:00pm to benefit another important cause dear to her heart: Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound.

Donations to Operation Rebound made at the event (or online) supports military veterans who have returned with permanent physical disabilities and seek to pursue an active lifestyle through physical fitness and athletics.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Ask Cosmos, SmokeySmokey writes: Dear Cosmos, my family has spent so much time at the beach this summer, I’m afraid we’ve missed all the great activities that go on in Balboa Park this time of year. Is there still time to catch any of it?

Cosmos responds: While it’s never too late to catch the many great things going on in the Park at any given time, you’ve certainly dug quite a hole for yourself if you still want to enjoy some of the special summertime events. Fortunately, you can still “catch up” on what you’ve been missing at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Twilight in the Park concert seriesA good place to start is the final two weeks of the Twilight in the Park concert series, weeknights at 6:15pm through August 30. This week, you can get a taste of this program’s diverse offerings with performances by the Stoney B Blues Band (August 21), the U.S. Navy Southwest Band (August 22), and the Coronado Concert Band (August 23), featuring Broadway showtunes.

Closing out the series next week will be the Moonlight Serenade Orchestra (August 28). You and your packmates will have a howling good time dancing the evening away to big band swing hits from yesteryear. The nostalgia trip gets a bit trippier, if not downright gnarly, the following night, when the Coolrays bring their unique blend of California surfer music to the Speckels stage on Wednesday, August 29.

Last but not least, you can still even catch the Grande Finale performance of the International Summer Organ Festival on Monday, August 27, at 7pm. Dr. Carol Williams is joined by the Spreckels Festival Choir and other special guests on a variety of compositions, including G. F. Handel’s “Hallelujah,” “I Feel Pretty” from Westside Story, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.

If that isn’t enough to put a swing in your step, don’t forget that all of these events are free, and all species and breeds are welcome – provided having a howling good time doesn’t involve excessive howling.

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