Do Dah Day

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Do Dah Day is an annual pet parade, music festival and fund-raiser that is held on Highland Avenue and in Caldwell and Rhodes Parks. The first Do Dah Day was conceived at a meeting of friends at Dugan's to fill a need for a Spring festival. The first parade, in 1979, had around 35 participants, including Ed Boutwell and John McGibboney. Proceeds were donated to the Birmingham Zoo's Monkey Island.

Since McGibboney became president of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in 1980, it and other pet rescue and welfare organizations have been the beneficiary of over $900,000 raised. When Boutwell relocated to West Texas in 1987 his daughter, Nancy Boutwell, served on the organizing committee in his absence. That year they invited Jessica Hahn, still in the spotlight of her imbroglio with televangelist Jim Bakker, to serve as the parade's grand marshall, earning a great deal of media attention.

In the following years the festival became more organized and respectful of authority. Larry "Bud" Melman was grand marshall in 1992. Morris Day and the Time was a featured performer. Adam Ant provided a forgettable set of pre-recorded hits. The one-day parade and festival is still organized and operated entirely by volunteers. Numerous animal groups, political candidates and other organizations make use of the event to solicit interest and disseminate information.

Do Dah Day is presented by its 32-member Board of Directors. The board president is Audrey McClinton, who succeeded Richard Thornton.


A group of friends including Ed Boutwell, John McGibboney, Ann Staub, and Betsy Hardigree, applied for a parade permit to jump start the summer party season.


The baton of organization was passed to a new group who expanded the festival, cemented its legality, and formally invited pets to be the centerpiece of the parade.


Jessica Hahn appeared as grand master of the festival, generating a great deal of attention.


Approximately 12,000 attended the festival which grossed $60,000, donating 2/3 of that amount to animal shelters.


A successful festival drew 40,000 in attendance and makes a $49,000 donation to the Humane Society.


The 20th Anniversary Do Dah Day was held on May 22. Proceeds went toward establishing a spay/neuter program with the help of local veterinarians.


The 2001 event was held on May 5.


The May 1 event featured the Subdudes.


Lousy weather put a mild damper on the festival, which moved to Rhodes and Rushton Parks while Caldwell was being rehabilitated.


Approximately 40,000 attended the 27th Do Dah Day in glorious warm weather on May 20. Mike White and Elizabeth Russell were named King and Queen at Do Dah Eve at Zydeco. Elvis, a 6 year old Labrador retriever, was named the pet king of Do Dah Day. Harry the Hairless, a Mexican hairless, was crowned "Ugliest Dog".

Music acts included the Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, Caddle, Ethan and the Ewox, Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, Slippery When Wet, Shillelagh Law, Nathan Peek Band, Looney Mill, Jacksons NLA, and Michael Warren. Acoustic Jackson NLA, Cullom's Crossing, and Within Reason performed at the Do Dah Eve event.

Overall, the 2006 festival raised $47,000 for charity.


The 28th annual festival was held on May 19. Matt Lackey and Christie Lynam were named King and Queen at Do Dah Eve at Nana Funks. Chinese hairless "Cooper" dethroned Harry the Hairless for the title of "Ugliest Dog"

Musical acts included MojoBrothers, Jeremiah Meyer, Emily DeLoach, the Blue Light Specials, HoneyBaked, Kendra Sutton & the Bad Luck Boys, Michael Shelton & the Effect, Ethan & the Ewox, Angie Aparo, and Standard Candle. Jacksons NLA played Do Dah Eve.

The event raised more than $50,000 for charity in 2007.


2008 poster

The 29th Do Dah Day was held on May 17. Music acts included the Ryan Kinder Band, Jeremiah Meyer Band, the Barnstormers, Act of Congress, Anders Osborne, Jon Vogel & the Southside Community Band, the Shame Idols, The Strife Rifle, Halo Stereo, The Last Straw, and the Radiators. The 2008 t-shirt and poster art was done by Joe Attaway and included a caricature of former Do Day Day president Jerry Yarley.


2009 poster

The 30th Do Dah Day was held on May 16. Jessica Bush was queen. Blue, a Great Dane, was pet king.

Delbert McClinton was the musical headliner at Caldwell Park. Other acts included Wigatron, Jason Bailey, The White Oaks, The Swamp Poppas, Jackson County Line, VASA, Act of Congress, and Roots Posse. Approximately 20,000 people came out despite morning rain showers.


The 31st Do Dah Day, celebrating "Cool Cats and Hot Dogs," was held May 15. Bessie, a mixed breed owned by Leisa Bunn of Cosmo's Pizza was named Queen. Bessie lost a leg in 2009 after she was shot by Birmingham Police responding to a stray dog call. Oscar Dodd, a ferret owned by Julie and Rodney Dodd escorted her as King. Dog and cat hair was collected to make booms to protect wetlands and marine habitat on Alabama's Gulf Coast.

Performers included The Perishables, Roots Posse, The Blades, Telluride, Locust Fork, Act of Congress, Hearts, Tonal Vision, Matt Devine Band, Amazing Sea Monkeys, Enemy Lovers and Tim Brantley.


The 32nd Do Dah Day was held May 21. Skillet the Dog and Puggy Sue Dodd were named king and queen. Donations were taken to assist animals orphaned as a result of the 2011 tornado outbreak, and proceeds from to event went to Greater Birmingham Humane Society and Friends of Cats and Dogs.

Performers included The Turn, Act of Congress, Sharrif Simmons, Roots Posse, Tim Brantley, Downright, A Bunch of Guys, Hearts, Possum, Walon Smith Band, Sweetwater Road, and Frankie Velvet.


Jim N' Nick's Bar-B-Q took over as presenting sponsor for 2012's Do Dah Day, which took place on May 19. Yorkie Poo Larry Munson Fish was selected king for the day, with dachshund Natalie Wood as queen and hound Wilbur Ford as prince. Music acts included Act of Congress, Sharif Simmons, Juka Tribe, Bunny Austin, The Paybacks and Jerry Chapman with the Birmingham StringJazz Quartet.


PetSmart and Banfield Pet Hospital took over as presenting sponsors for the 2013 edition, held May 18. Music acts included Luella and the Sun, The Hurlers, Little House, Mile Marker 7, Juka Tribe, Gabe Tajeu, The Hearts, Feather Canyon, India Ramey, and Marc Harris and Mojo Rising.


PetSmart and Banfield returned as presenting sponsors for the May 17, 2014 Do Dah Day. Do Dah Eve was held at Black Market Bar & Grill.


  • Shepherd, Sara. (May 7, 1999) "Do Dah Day to fund spay/neuter program". Birmingham Business Journal
  • Geiss, Chuck. (May 18, 2006) "Naked Birmingham". Black & White
  • Velasco, Eric (May 18, 2008) "Birmingham's Do Dah Day goes to the dogs." The Birmingham News
  • Leech, Marie (May 15, 2010) "Plenty of sunshine at Do Dah Day means huge crowd, plenty of fur." The Birmingham News
  • Williams, Roy L. (May 22, 2011) "Do Day Day dogma: 'It's all about the animals'." The Birmingham News
  • Whitley, Carla Jean (May 14, 2014) "Ed Boutwell shares the origins of Do Dah Day." Birmingham magazine

External links