Sonoma-Marin Fair Begins its Quest to Find the World's Ugliest Dog in 18th Annual Contest

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The 18th Annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest is looking for a new champion now that Li'l Sam--last year's Chinese Crested whose mug catapulted him to world fame--has passed away. Contest sponsor, the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California encourages entrants from around the globe.

Who would have thought that a contest heralding the world’s ugliest dog would so capture the public imagination? As the Sonoma-Marin Fair gears up for the 18th Annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest Championship, contenders are already pulling at the leash, ready to lift their legs and stake their claim on the $1,000 prize purse and the instant fame.

That fame catapulted last year’s winner, Li’l Sam, a 14-year-old Chinese Crested, into the media spotlight with appearances on C N N, Late Show with Carson Daly, Inside Edition, the Insider, C B S Early Show, as well as Japanese, German and Spanish television with mentions on Regis & Kelly and Jay Leno. Sam passed away shortly after the contest (a moment of silence please), which elicited a new wave of adoration across the world for his wrinkled, hairless, red-eyed self. His life touched millions. In fact, his owner Susie Lockheed started a blog to celebrate Sam and has had more than 110 millions hits on the site since August 2005. Now that’s ‘poopular.’

How can any dog fill Sam’s collar? Sam was a three-time undefeated champion at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The first year he won, newspapers described it as a “landside victory of mythic proportions.”

Which leads to the question on the tip of everyone’s panting tongue, “Can the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest get uglier?” Individual contenders from as far away as Florida and even England are flying in for a chance to try at the 2006 contest which takes place at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma on Friday, June 23rd at 6:30 p.m. Regional contest winners from locales around the globe will be vying for the title as well.

The stakes are higher this year too. The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest culminates in a run-off from past year’s winners and this year’s winner. The World Champion will take home $1,000 and a trophy (up substantially from last year’s $200 prize money). The Ugliest Dog of 2006 will claim $500 and a trophy and is based on a showdown between the winner of the Pedigree and Mutt classes.

The fair is encouraging proud owners of ugly dogs to stop grooming their dogs and enter them in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. Entry forms may be downloaded at And all the sniffing and strutting begins earlier this year. Contestants can start influencing the popular vote by sending in a digital photo and a few lines describing why their dog should win for posting on the fair’s online World’s Ugliest Dog Voting Gallery. Contest lovers can then vote for their favorite dog at

The Fair aims to make all contestants feel welcome in the dog-friendly town of Petaluma by giving early entrants a copy of the bestselling book The Dog-Lover’s Companion to California by Maria Goodavage, compliments of the Sonoma-Marin Fair!

Broadcast Media: The Sonoma-Marin Fair is also entertaining offers from media to broadcast the 2006 event.

Don’t miss the Sonoma-Marin Fair taking place June 21 to 25 at the Petaluma Fairgrounds in Sonoma County. Call 707-283-FAIR or visit


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Vicki Dearmon
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