For seven years in a row, Joe Strang and his yellow Labrador retriever, Gordon, participated in the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic bird dog parade. The pair covered more than 600,000 miles on the road.
The event takes place at The Wisconsin Center this weekend, but the experience will be a little different for Strang. He will be traveling from Cascade, Iowa, without his longtime best friend. Gordon had to be put to sleep this past October. “It will be an emotional day because Gordon won’t be here with us, but it will still be a good day,” Strang says.
As a stud dog, Gordon fathered 399 puppies. Making this weekend’s event even more special for Strang, puppy #399 (named Mack) and his owners are traveling from Nebraska to Milwaukee to meet Strang at the Classic. Mack will wear Gordon’s old collar and tag in memory of him during the parade. Strang will be entering one of Gordon’s grandsons in the parade – a puppy he just picked out this week.
The parade, which begins Friday, Feb. 14 at 12:15 p.m., is a highlight of the event. Legendary dog trainer and Purina director of sporting programs, Bob West, will explain the history and characteristics of each of the more than 30 breeds to the crowd.
The National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic focuses on wildlife conservation, bird dog training, and wildlife habitat and restoration. Wisconsin congressman Rep. Paul Ryan will give a keynote address on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Wisconsin Center Ballroom. He will discuss how to maintain and preserve wildlife habitats.
The youth community can also get involved at the Classic. Kids can participate in interactive presentations every hour in the Youth Village, where they will learn about habitat preservation and wildlife. For the adventurous, kids can try their hand at 3-D archery, sling shots and air rifles in the ranges provided. “No matter what your interests are, you’ll find something you’re interested in,” Strang says.
And, no Brew City event is complete without beer, so don’t miss beer, wine and wild game pairings Friday at 4 p.m. with Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast.
National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic (Feb. 14-16). Wisconsin Center.
400 W. Wisconsin Ave., pheasantfest.org.
Friday, Feb. 14: 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Feb. 15: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Feb. 16: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
to 16: $5
and under: Free
Special: $35. Includes three-day admission, annual Pheasants Forever membership