Hang 8 Dog Surfing to Kick off Saturday in Flagler Beach


The third annual running of the Hang 8 Dog Surfing Extravaganza is almost here. The event is set to begin Saturday morning in Flagler Beach, just a short walk from the pier. Months of hard work from event organizers Eric Cooley and Suzie Johnston will finally bear fruits when dozens of dogs and likely upward of a thousand attendees descend upon Flagler Beach for the competition. The Hang 8 event will be located at the beach walkover on South 5th Street, perpendicular to SR-A1A and just across the street from Cooley’s own 7-Eleven convenience store. It kicks off at 8:00 am, with a full schedule available below.

Though it makes its name from the titular surfing dogs, Hang 8 features a variety of activities and events over the course of the day. In addition to a dog surfing contest with multiple competition divisions, there will also be a dog costume contest, open dog surfing sessions, a dog kissing booth, and several vendor tents along the beach.

Cooley and Johnston are donating 100% of the proceeds raised at the event to three local dog-oriented charities: the Flagler Humane Society, K9s for Warriors, and Saving Missing Animals Response Team (SMART) of Flagler County. The event is advertised as family-friendly, and will of course be a welcome destination for family dogs as well.

Natty the Baddy.
Natty the Baddy.

A stage has been set up on dry land for the costume contest by HT Productions, a step up from previous years in which dogs strolled the catwalk (don’t call it that in front of them) on the beach sand near the lifeguard towers. Last year’s winner was a dog named Natty the Baddy, who was dressed as the iconic Flagler Beach Fishing Pier. That costume would surely impress if brought back, but when the pier is demolished later this year it’ll become a retro outfit.

As the most recent former Mayor of Flagler Beach, Johnston has no doubt had more time to devote to organizing Hang 8 than in other years. And that flexibility may have come at just the right time, as the contest has begun to become nationally known and recognized, with media coverage coming in across the United States. Cooley still serves as a Flagler Beach City Commissioner, which he balances with running his 7-Eleven store. In addition to the widespread news coverage, Hang 8 has also become a staple of the local tourism industry, even appearing on an I-95 billboard near Flagler Beach’s exit.

Cooley, Johnston, and surf dog Wednesday on First Coast News ahead of last year’s event.
Cooley, Johnston, and surf dog Wednesday on First Coast News ahead of last year’s event.

Cooley’s own dog Wednesday, a nine-year-old chihuahua, serves as an unofficial mascot of the event. She doesn’t surf for prizes (politicians and their conflicts of interest), but she never misses the opportunity to show her chops by carving a wave or two on competition day. Cooley also credits her for the event’s inception, saying that if she hadn’t taken such a liking to surfing it never would’ve been arranged.

The judges for the surf competition were announced earlier this year: former pro surfers and veteran surf judges Kyle Wilson and Chris Raby, Tortugas’ Kitchen & Bar owner Paul Chestnut, and Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen.

Event Schedule

8:00 am to 9:30 am – Open Surf Practice / Check Out the Vendors

9:00 am – 9:15 am – Meet & Greet with Surf Dog Lily

9:15 am – Small Dog Surf Check-In / Line-Up

9:30 am – Small Dog Surf Heats

10:00 am – 10:15 am – Meet & Greet with Surf Dog Wednesday

10:15 am – Large Dog Surf Check-In / Line-Up

10:30 am – Large Dog Surf Heats

11:00 am – 11:15 am – Meet & Greet with Surf Dog Tank

11:15 am – Tandem Check-In / Line-Up

11:30 am – Tandem Surf Heats

12:00 pm – 12:15 pm – Meet & Greet with Surf Dogs Rey & Roxy

12:15 pm – Costume Contest Check-In / Line-Up

12:30 pm – Costume Contest
1:30 pm – Award Presentations
3:00 pm – Hang 8 After Pawty at Good Times Dog Bar
  • (Good Times Dog Bar – 3468 N Ocean Shore Blvd Suite 3, Flagler Beach, FL 32136)

The event’s many sponsors, per their Facebook page.
The event’s many sponsors, per their Facebook page.