An essay contest is open to young children in Aiken County who want the chance to act as judges at the second annual Woofstock Mutts & Music Festival.

The contest, sponsored by Friends of the Animal Shelter, is open to all students in first through sixth grades at no charge. They are encouraged to answer the question, “What can we do about all the unwanted puppies and kittens in Aiken County?”

The winner in each of the three grade levels – first through second, third through fourth and fifth through sixth – will have the opportunity to assist in judging the dog contests at Woofstock, receive a $10 iTunes giftcard, a Woofstock T-shirt and two tickets to the event in November at Highfields.

“Friends of the Animal Shelter is very much concerned about educating the community on the benefits of spaying and neutering to control animal overpopulation,” said Woofstock organizer Edie Hubler.

The contest is meant to jump-start young children thinking about solutions to prevent unwanted litters, which, in many cases, end up being turned over to places like the Aiken County Animal Shelter.

“If the children don’t know anything about it, hopefully their parents will help them understand,” Hubler said.

The essays do not have to conform to a specific length or style or adhere to any other criteria. The deadline for submission is Oct. 1.

The Woofstock Mutts & Music Festival, a celebration of dogs and their people, will be Nov. 10 at Highfields.

There will be fun activities for all ages, according to Hubler, including live music, a Mutt Strut parade, dog contests like Best Kisser, dog demonstrations, vendors, crafters and food.

Contest entry forms are available at Completed entry forms and essays should be mailed to FOTAS/Woofstock, P.O. Box 527, New Ellenton, SC 29809.

FOTAS’s mission is to improve the quality of life for shelter animals by reducing the euthanasia rate, promoting successful pet adoptions and by helping to prevent unwanted and abused cats and dogs.

For more information, call 522-0471.