Report on the free stitch 'Shih Tzu Festival Rooted in China' 2021 Meetup Event at Akigase Park Saitama

As the seasons slowly changed from autumn to winter and the year 2021 drew to an end, on Sunday 6th November free stitch held the annual ‘Shih Tzu Festival Rooted in China’ Meetup event at the Mitsuike Ground in Akigase Park.  

As with previous years gone by, we saw a fantastic turnout for this event. After two years of coronavirus restrictions, everyone was eager to meet up and share experiences with fellow Shih Tzu owners under the clear autumn sky. The wonderful weather on the day gave all participants a chance to make the most of the fund and exciting events that the Meetup had to offer. Our team of photographers was able to take some exciting shots and footage of the event in action.  

Over 400 members attended the event this year with their families and dogs, and everyone was very understanding and cooperative of the COVID-19 precautionary measures put in place for everyone’s protection by the free stitch team - these included both staff and participants wearing face coverings, installing and checking close contact apps, and frequent hand sanitisation. 

After entering the event area, participants were able to exit and re-enter freely with their individual guest passes, so they could choose to relax in the field space or return to their cars. Once our guests had entered the Meetup area, they enjoyed letting their dogs off the lead in the dog run area or setting up tents and picnic areas so they could talk with their friends and families. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of repeat attendees this year and it was nice to see many people chatting like old friends after a long absence.  

As with our other events, we offered training and obedience sessions, charity photoshoots, food-tasting, 30-meter sprint competitions, and more. 

Once the activities opened at 10:00 a.m. queues quickly began to form around the 30-meter Dash and charity photoshoot tents. In the 30-meter Dash event, the Shih Tzus were encouraged to sprint from the start to the finish line at the beckon of their owners. Our staff carefully checked their speed using specially-placed sensors and ranked them throughout the day. The winners received a selection of prizes awarded during the closing moments of the event.  

Our ever-popular tombola made a return this year with the chance to win some amazing prizes from the free stitch product range. Both adults and children alike tried their luck for a once-per-family chance to win prizes ranging from free stitch original food to popular interior goods. 

The charity photoshoot is a popular mainstay among our regular charity activities and today was no exception as it continued to draw visitors who wished to have professional and commemorative photos taken of their dogs. Available to those who booked in advance (and in limited spaces to those who wished to join on the day) and for a small fee, free stitch offered to take both medium to high-resolution photos of owner’s dogs that can be used for printing, framing, or applying to a variety of homeware, such as mugs and keyrings. As the name implies, all proceeds from the photoshoot are donated towards promoting awareness of animal welfare in Japan. 

The free stitch Original Food booth this year gave dogs the chance to taste and purchase our new selection of English Country Duck, Angus Beef, and Scottish Salmon flavors. We were surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reaction to both our medium and small kibble food for All-life Stage Dogs. We hope that next time many more dogs will be able to come and try out our delicious food.  

We had the good fortune to be supported by a team of exhibitors and stores who were on board the event to share some new and exciting products and services with participants. 

In addition to the exhibitors, we were joined this time by our training and obedience team regulars Mr. Sasaki and Mr. Sugiyama. This time, they ran short seminars on how to reward good behaviour in Shih Tzus, how to introduce training to dogs who are unfamiliar with routines, and how to issue basic commands.  In addition to the training sessions, many participants also stayed on to join in the afternoon’s ‘Shih Tzu One’ game competition in which dogs could have their communication bond with their owners tested in a series of simple team-based agility courses.   

Rounding off the event at around 3:30 pm, free stitch closed proceedings by awarding prizes, including 12kg of free stitch Original Food, to the fastest dogs, game competition winners, and conducting a prize draw that participants had been entering throughout the day.

The Shih Tzu Meetup 2021 continued to surprise and please everyone who came to enjoy the day. free stitch would like to thank everyone who attended and worked at the event and we hope to see everyone again in 2022!