Bracket busters: Wiener Dog Races, Diaper Dash highlight weekend’s Spring Expo in Craig |

Bracket busters: Wiener Dog Races, Diaper Dash highlight weekend’s Spring Expo in Craig

A dachshund struts down the track Saturday during the Wiener Dog Races at the 28th Annual KRAI Spring Expo at Centennial Mall.
Brian Smith

While many people this time of year are tending to their NCAA brackets, the staff at KRAI in Craig spent part of Saturday filling out brackets of wholly different sort.

Call it March Madness of a different kind.

On Friday and Saturday, Centennial Mall played host to the 28th Annual KRAI Spring Expo, an event that showcased more than 40 area businesses and their products and services to local residents.

On Saturday, the event fielded two tournaments — the Weenie Dog Races and Diaper Derby.

KRAI disc jockey Mike Fuller kept track of winners and losers on both brackets.

First, at 9:30 a.m., 16 dachshunds vied for a coveted spot alongside nine other dogs on a decade-old winners plaque hung in the KRAI offices. The competition was a fast moving, sudden-death elimination play at the mall, with the losers leaving the course with tails tucked between their legs.

When the field was narrowed to two finalists, Lily, a 10-month-old standard weenie, stepped to the line next to Ellie, a 4-year-old wire-haired veteran of the sport.

About a hundred spectators lined the course, waiting for the start of the final race.

KRAI owner Frank Handel raised a microphone to his lips and summed up the anticipatory mood of the crowd.

“I can hardly breathe,” he said.

Then, Hanel signaled the race’s begin.

“Ready. Set. Woof,” he said.

The dogs were set free from their handlers and pattered down the raceway.

Lily and Ellie ran nose and nose toward the finish line in what looked to be a dead heat. Then, in the final moments, veteran Ellie veered toward newcomer Lily and gnashed her teeth.

Lily stopped in her tracks and ceded to the top dog.

Ellie’s owner, Craig resident Krista Boatman, was pleased with the strategy displayed in the final race.

“She was edging the competition out,” Boatman said of Ellie’s last-minute aggression.

Boatman said she hadn’t provided Ellie with much formal training before race day.

“No,” she said. “We just played with a squeaky toy.”

Lily’s owner, 6-year-old Craig resident Dakota Kemry, had little to say about the race. Kemry, who wore a red sweatshirt with a black dachshund printed on the front, deferred questions to his mother.

Katlyn Kemry said she wasn’t expecting Lily to get as far as she did. Lily was the tournament’s underdog, she said.

“Well, she’s only 10 months old. She’s not quite trained yet,” Katlyn said.

Later, at 11:30 a.m., Hanel called the start of the Diaper Dash.

“Ready. Set. Waah,” he said.

The tournament pitted seven crawling babies against one another for a $25 gift certificate to the Tin Cup Grill and a sampler of meats from Mountain Meat & Sausage.

In the end, it came down to 11-month-old Sarah Kawchack and 10-month-old Rodney Fisher.

The race was tight at the onset, but Fisher took the prize when Kawchack paused mid-race to sit upright and admire her mother.

The winner’s father, Nelson Fisher, said he was proud of his son.

Hanel, who incorporated Diaper Dash into Spring Expo six years ago, said the sport is open only to babies who haven’t learned to walk. Careers are short, too.

“You don’t get veterans,” Hanel said.

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