The Running of the Chihuahuas, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is about more than just finely tuned athletes competing against each other for top prizes.
The event, produced by WDOD-FM 96.5 and set for Saturday, May 6, at First Tennessee Pavilion, is also a party celebrating Cinco de Mayo featuring food and live music by several touring artists. Pop star Aaron Carter, whose latest single, "Sooner or Later," is in heavy rotation at Hits 96 and on online streaming services, will headline the event. Other acts will be announced on the radio station over several days this week.
Event organizer and afternoon personality Brad Steiner says the event has gotten bigger in terms of racers, fans and performers each year.
"We may not be the Kentucky Derby yet but this year is shaping up to be our biggest ever," he says.
"Not only will we see a record number of racers, but we have the biggest musical lineup we have ever had and a major giveaway to announce soon."
Six dogs race at a time. The winners of each heat move on to the next round of competition.
As has been the case for the last five years, TVs will surround the race site for optimum viewing of the Chihuahuas. They will also be used for "photo finishes," as they were in the 2014 and 2015 finales.
Steiner says that not only will the winning racer win its weight in prizes, owners and spectators can also win prizes, including a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Station manager Danny Howard says last year's event got some national attention on social media.
"Last year's race was the top trending topic on Twitter last year," he says, "only outdone by the Kentucky Derby. We owe it all to the amazing support that Chattanooga and the surrounding areas have given us for 10 years. It's been so successful that other cities have copied our blueprint and started offering their own unsanctioned version of the race. The original Running of the Chihuahuas still remains the biggest in the country, and it all started in our Broad Street parking lot."
Steiner adds, "This year we will induct the first round of racers in our Running of the Chihuahuas Hall of Fame. It will be a special group of the most dedicated and successful racers in our storied history. That incredible athletic prowess will be on display for free on May 6."
Registration is open and available at www.hits96.com on a first-come, first-served basis. Spectators and press are encouraged to participate, for free, starting at 1 p.m. at First Tennessee Pavilion. Music begins at 2 p.m. and racing begins, tentatively, at 5 p.m.