The Wiener Dog Nationals Steal the Show at Looney Daze

Vergas' annual festival also featured a Beatles cover band and loon-calling contest

We really did it, y’all. We drove seven hours roundtrip to watch the Wiener Dog Nationals in Vergas, Minnesota—and we don’t regret it one bit.

Started in 2013, the dachshund race is part of the town’s annual Looney Daze festival, whose lineup of family-friendly events includes area-wide rummage sales, a water ski show, kids fishing, a loon-calling contest, street fair, bouncy castles, chalk art, classic car show and road rally, petting zoo, puppy plunge, and a lakeside concert by St. Paul-based Beatles tribute band A Hard Day’s Night.

The town of Vergas, located in Otter Tail County, is home to just 358 people—and we’re pretty sure 356 of ‘em came out for the four-day festival, which ran from August 12-15, 2021. Forty nine doxie owners entered their beloved low-riders in the Wiener Dog Nationals, where the top prizes included trophies designed by local metal artist Patrick Shannon of Forest Edge Gallery.

“All racers must be dachshunds or kinda look like dachshunds,” explained emcee Tom ‘Digger’ Anderson, noting, “That poodle wearing the hot dog costume is disqualified!”

As wiener dog fans ourselves (one half of @american_chis is a Chiweenie, or Chihuahua/dachshund mix), Team Minnevangelist was thrilled to see purebreds and mixes alike gunning for the gold. Our own weenie, Miki, is a senior rescue — so we cheered extra loud for the gray-faced racers! But the grand champion was a pretty long-haired dachshund named Kylie Rose. Gooooooooo, Kylie Rose! 🥇

Though we were only in the area for 24 hours, we made sure to grab patty melts and cheese curds at historic church-turned-burger joint 1894 in Perham, delectable country fried steak and dreamy coconut cream pie at Loons Nest Restaurant in Vergas, and some beautiful hand-thrown ceramics from Butch Pavlacky at Lost Highway Pottery, also in Vergas. For a full rundown of our favorite things to eat, see, and do in Otter Tail County, check out Our Perfect Weekend Getaway Guide to Otter Tail County.