All animal lovers are invited to the third annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2 to 4 p.m. at First Christian Church, 412 W. Main St., Richmond, in partnership with the Madison County Humane Society.

“Bring your pets — dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, llamas, lizards, birds, you name it,” said Dr. Betsey Goehrig, pastor of First Christian.

A brief prayer service for all of God’s creatures will be conducted by Goehrig and the Rev. Michael Swartzentruber at 2:15 p.m., followed by individual blessings upon each pet by the ministers.

Kristi Runyon, Richmond native and WTVQ news anchor, will be master of ceremonies and the event will go on, rain or shine.

Certificates will be given to each participant, and special certificates will be given to those who lost a pet in the past year.

Blessing tags will be available for pet collars for $5 each. Additional parking will be available across the street.

There also will be a petting zoo, children’s activities, inflatables, people snacks, pet snacks, adoptable pets from the humane society, trainers tips, an animal costume contest, best pet tricks contest, prizes and more.

Blessing of the Animals is a custom that goes back to St. Francis of Assisi who had a deep love for all creatures. The event is also conducted in conjunction with World Animal Day, which also occurs on Oct. 2.

An animal art contest is being added to the event this year.

Art entries can be of any type (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.) and are to in some way include animals. There is no charge to enter.

First, second and third prizes will be given in each division for age 12 and younger, teens and adults.

Entries should be brought between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. to be displayed in the church’s fellowship hall. Those who wish may leave their artwork on display through Oct. 14 for the humane society dinner, and they may be picked up that evening or Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. the following week.

Entries should include (on back or bottom):  name, address, phone number and age group.

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