Where the Red Fern Still Grows

Coonhounds get their day. Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Coon Dog Day celebrates its impressive 54th anniversary in Saluda this Saturday, set to draw about 10,000 people and starting with a 5K race at 8am, followed by entertainment and vendors opening their booths at 9.

The day features a parade, live music, crafts, lots of food, and activities celebrating all types of the hunting “coonhound” — including the Plott, Treeing Walker, Blue Tick and Red Tick, Black-and-Tan, and Redbone. Coonhounds are a rare example of a purely American-derived canine breed; they’re known for their hard work ethic and gentle natures, and are part of a centuries-old cultural tradition in the rural South.

Check out our feature story last year that explores the history of the festival, and, by extension, raccoon hunting. Meanwhile, hound owner Heather Bell, rescuer of a Treeing Walker named Flash, tells Bold Life about the breed’s value as a pet: “We got Flash from a rescue, unplanned,” she says. “They had him in a cage out front of a pet store and I couldn’t leave him. He enjoys running, bellowing, chewing, chasing everything. His nose rules all. No food is safe, ever. He has the best disposition and is so smart he figured out how to open our baby gate with his nose. He fits in perfectly with my three rowdy boys.”

Coon Dog Day, July 8, 8am-11pm in downtown Saluda. www.saluda.com.

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