On Friday morning, when Codorus Blast organizers stepped onto the grassy field at Codorus State Park in Hanover, they didn't know whether or not the festival they spent months planning would be a go.
"The weather was against us," Codorus Park manager Warren Werntz said. "It was mud, mud, mud."
Volunteers spent hours spreading hay over the grassy parking lot and filling ruts with stones, he said. And by 4 p.m. — when the blast was scheduled to open — most of the mud had dried up, the vendors were ready and the festival was on.
"It's a miracle to get this off today," Werntz said.
The weather didn't stop guests from coming. About 10,000 people (and hundreds of dogs) gathered at the park Friday night for the 14th annual blast, and organizers expect about 35,000 more by the end of the weekend.
This year, the festival featured about 95 vendors and exhibits, ranging from food vendors to handmade gifts to bounce houses and rock climbing walls for kids, event coordinator Brenda Werntz said.
Bill Mortimer, of Hanover, has been coming to the blast every year for the past four years and said his favorite part is watching his children play. His 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son played games, went for a pontoon boat ride, played on the jungle gym and tested out the rock climbing wall, he said.
Nikke Myers, of Jackson Township, attended the event for the first time Friday and said she appreciated the family-friendly environment.
"It's nice for families to come out in the community and it gets them involved, and it's pet friendly too," she said.
Some of the most popular attractions at the blast include the butterfly house and the Codorus State Park nature tent with live animal displays.
Hundreds visited the nature tent throughout the day Friday to see live snakes and owls and learn about local animals and the park's resources, Codorus State Park volunteer Karen Lippy said.
Another popular animal attraction every year is the Keystone Dock Dog competitions on the lake. Several hundred, ranging in age from toddlers to seniors, gathered on the grassy hill Friday night to watch dogs run and jump off a specially built dock into the lake. Throughout the weekend, the dogs will be judged in three different categories: Big Air (distance), Extreme Vertical (height) and Speed Retreat (speed).
The competition, now in its 10th year, draws about 300 dogs, including participants from as far as the Carolinas and Georgia, Keystone Dock Dogs event manager Linda Rohrbaugh said.
It's neat because you can see dogs ranging from Huskies to Jack Russell Terriers to Great Danes, she said. And they also range in skill and experience levels.
Angie Jones, of Hanover, for example, has entered her 13-year-old Chocolate Lab Nestle in the Keystone Dock Dog competition for 10 years. Nestle has one of the longest careers in the sport, has been ranked in the Big Air wave for Dock Dogs worldwide, and previously held the world record for extreme vertical.
But several newcomers competed as well. Though his chocolate Labrador Retriever Milka only learned to jump off a dock six weeks ago, Steve Taylor, of Jackson Township, entered his dog in the competition for fun.
"I'm a dog lover," he said. "I love watching the dogs have fun in the water, and I love sports. It's like a doggy long-jump Olympics."
The festival ended Friday with a concert by Central Pa. '50s to '80s band Pentagon. Live music, dock dog competitions, children's games and more continue at the blast Saturday and Sunday.
Fireworks and eagles
How will the bright lights and loud bangs affect the eagle family living near the York County park?
They will not be in danger from the fireworks, park officials said Friday.
"The safety of the eagles is intact," said Terry Brady, deputy press secretary for state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
So families planning to head to Codorus Blast can look forward to seeing two possible sky displays: a fledgling testing its weeks and the fireworks.
"Nothing has changed with the festival now that the eagles have fledged," Brady said.
If you go
What: Codorus Blast
When: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: 1066 Blooming Grove Road, Hanover
Cost: $5 per car, $10 for a three-day pass
Proceeds benefit: Friends of Codorus State Park, a nonprofit organization that aims to restore, preserve and improve Codorus State Park.
For a festival schedule and more information: Visit www.CodorusBlast.org.
9 a.m. Keystone Dock Dogs - Big Air Wave 10
10 a.m. Blast Opens
10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Butterfly House at Nature Display
11 a.m. Keystone Dock Dogs — Big Air Wave 11
11 p.m. — 5 p.m. Kayak tours at Shoreline
12 p.m. Dive demo — Raising of the Viking Treasure
12 p.m. — 3 p.m. Jump Start — Main Stage
12 p.m. — 5 p.m. F&S Pontoon Rides at Shoreline
1 p.m. Keystone Dock Dogs — Speed Retrieve Heat 2
3:30 p.m. Keystone Dock Dogs — Big Air Final
5 p.m. Photo contest winners announced
5 p.m. Blast Closes