WINCHESTER is used to traffic congestion but it was perhaps the city’s first-ever ‘dog jam’.
More than 130 canines paraded in a congested circle at North Walls park on Sunday.
It was certainly the first ever dog show judged by a fully-fledged pop star.
“There is a dog jam; please keep moving,” pleaded the announcer as the dogs and their owners circled Frank Turner.
The parade was the highlight of the Save the Rec Grand Day Out at North Walls Park attended by an estimated 2,500 people.
They are campaigning against city council plans to build a new leisure centre on part of the open space.
Mr Turner pondered the difficult task. “I’m quite nervous. I don’t want anyone to be annoyed about this. This is harder than I imagined it would be,” he said, resplendent in shades and a t-shirt for Black Flag, the 1980s American hardcore punk band.
Edging closer were Dalmations, terriers, pugs, poodles and this being Winchester, lots of Labradors.
When the first two winners, for waggiest tail and best-behaved, turned out to be spaniels, suspicions were raised that perhaps Mr Turner may be biased.
But then the naughtiest dog announced was a Labrador (it bit its owner’s leg) and the dog most like its owner, a Tibetan Cotton.
Mr Turner told the Chronicle: “I grew up in Winchester and grew up coming to this rec so today is very important. It is utterly ridiculous that Winchester City Council is considering building on this.
“I love dogs but because of my job I can’t have one. I would like to spend all day with them,” he said.
Mr Turner played a sell-out gig at the Railway Inn at Winchester on Sunday. He announced the surprise concert on Twitter on Friday and it sold out within minutes.
Winner of the dog most like its owner was Jan Smith and five year old Poppy. Ms Smith was wearing a matching white fur hat.
She said: “It’s very exciting. This is Poppy’s first competition. She is a little overwhelmed by all the other dogs.
“This has been the most amazing turnout. I have never seen so many members of the community pull together. It is vital that we keep this playing field.”
Event organiser Mike Caldwell said he was delighted with how the day had gone.” “It was a fantastic turnout. Frank Turner was a real star, a charming man. It has been a great day.”
Cricket teams played for the King Alfred Trophy and there were lots of other sports being played, from croquet to canoeing, to show the importance of the park.
It is set to be an important issue at the forthcoming city council elections on May 22.