If you slid into the 24th Annual Chocolate Festival off Fairfield Avenue last week, between the Karaoke Bandstand and the big bouncy slide, you encountered the enthusiastic representatives of FOTAS.

Sergio, DaVinci, Joanie, Ritchie and Rex, five unique adoptable dogs from the Aiken County Shelter, represented us the best. They were the stars. At very least, many attendees stopped to lavish attention on those lovable dogs; at best, two of them were adopted, Sergio and DaVinci, and went home with their new families.

Occasionally, it seemed like Rex, Ritchie and Joanie were going to be chosen, too. But it wasn’t their day. Check them out on Petfinder.com, and see for yourself how special they truly are.

The Serteen animal-lovers, Katie, Jada, Madison, Justine, Carly and their supervisor, Valorie, came to help show off the dogs. The Serteens have become regular ambassadors for the animals at the County Shelter, and FOTAS has learned to count on them as valued members of our family.

The new edition of the “FOTAS Dogfather” t-shirt and the brand new “Fairy Dogmother” shirt, both conversation starters among dog enthusiasts, went on sale that day. If sales at the Chocolate Festival are an indication, and you want one, you had better come out to Steeplechase (10/27) or Woofstock (11/10) and get it while supplies last.

The corner assigned to FOTAS was perfect. It offered a big area to set up dog pens and retail displays for our hats and shirts; two picnic tables for folks to gather around; lots of shade, and many, many attendees walking by.

In our quest to bring the plight of the county’s homeless animals to the public’s attention, and to bring public concern and involvement to our community shelter, FOTAS welcomes the opportunity to participate in community events like St. Mary’s Chocolate Festival.

This year, we are focused on our Capital Campaign for the new Aiken County Shelter, due to break ground in a few months. Our volunteers work to make the public aware that we exist, that the need is urgent, and that together we can truly make an essential difference.

As people stopped to chat last week, we were amazed again by how many still do not know that there are two local shelters: one private, one public; one state-of-the-art-brand-spanking-new, and one that was grossly inadequate 10 years ago, but is obligated to function in service to the public, but not to the animals.

Our next major fundraiser is our second Woofstock Festival on November 10. It kicks off with our first “Mutt Strut,” a family-oriented dog parade that will kick off the festival. Last Saturday, we had our Mutt Strut posters and flyers out. If you missed yours, go to the FOTAS website www.fotasaiken.org/woofstock.

Register, get friends and family to sponsor you and your dog(s) participation, raise $100, $200 or $300+ dollars and win prizes. The biggest prize is a chance to win a 64-gigabyte iPad.

The grand prize is a shelter we can take pride in. Please help.

FOTAS volunteers work with the Aiken County Animal Shelter, 411 Wire Road. For more information, email info@fotasaiken.org or visit www.fotasaiken.org.