Families gathered this weekend at the Luke West Valley Recreation Family Fun Expo to watch Chihuahua and wiener dog races, taste chili recipes and enjoy the sunshine.

Saturday’s event, sponsored by the Luke West Valley Community Council Recreation sub-committee at the El Mirage Gateway Park, featured pet and child-friendly activities like the dog races, a pet fashion show, bounce castles, skateboard competition and a small petting zoo.

Jeff Whipple of El Mirage said he loves attending different events at the park, which he calls “the jewel of El Mirage,” with his children.

“We come out here for every event,” Whipple said while trying to pick his favorite chili, made by fire departments from across the West Valley, in the Best of the West Firehouse Chili Cook Off.

“We missed this last year, so we had to make it this year,” Whipple said. “Every time we come here it’s different.”

Sonny Culbreth, a member of the Luke West Valley Recreation sub-committee and assistant city manager for Litchfield Park, said he was glad to see the consistent flow of people at the event.

The committee plans two different events each year, including a senior games event in November, geared toward families of active and retired personnel and military from Luke Air Force Base who live in the West Valley.

“There’s something for everybody, I think,” Culbreth said of the Family Fun Expo.

Jennifer Fieldson of Avondale enjoyed the day with her son, Jackson, who was all smiles while riding one of the miniature ponies at the event.

“I just wanted to have him-and-I time,” Fieldson said.

Event attendees also had fun watching the fast and frenzied flyball dog race event, in which a team of four dogs jumped hurdles to snatch a ball waiting at the end in a relay-style race.

“We love flyball so much because a lot of families do it,” said Tammy Teeter, the flyball judge, adding that any breed of dog can be trained to do the race, and it is also open to rescue dogs.

Richard Zimmerman of Peoria also rated chili recipes with his family on Saturday.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a good time, good to get out here.”

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