Once a year, Aurora just goes to the dogs, and what a treat that is for our favorite canine critters, their friends and owners, especially those who care about rescued animals.

Freedom Dog Fest kicks off May 20 at 8:30 a.m. with a 5K run and a 1.75-mile mutt strut at Sunny Lake Park on East Mennonite Road. Activities will include contests, games, raffles and even a pet fashion show until 3 p.m.

The fun will resume May 21 at 10 a.m. when the city partners with Freedom Greyhound Rescue of Aurora to help find adoptive homes for dogs that have been mistreated.

The Tails'n Trails Dog Park on Page Road offers a fenced area for large and small dogs to play safely. All dogs must be leashed or in x-pens. For more information and to sponsor a booth, visit www.auroraoh.com/635/Freedom-Dog-Fest-5K or contact Tina Gerber, community events coordinator, at 330-995-9149 or gerbert@auroraoh.com.

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Aurora makes it easy for gardeners to share their wealth of plants at the Spring Perennial Swap on May 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kiwanis-Moore P;ayground beside the main fire station.

"Give a plant, take a plant" are the guidelines for this always popular, neighborly event. The city offers the following guidelines for making the swap successful for every grower:

"It is less traumatic for the plants if you are able to dig and pot them up a day or two before the swap. Dig the plants you wish to share, taking care not to damage the roots. Divide into clumps by hand or spade. Pot them and be sure to water until the swap.

"If you do not have pots, you may put the plant in baggies, wrap carefully in newspaper or put in plastic cups. Make sure there is enough soil and moisture to protect the roots from drying out."

Labels are recommended for each plant to include the following details: Name of plant, the month it will blossom and color of bloom, plus its preferred environment including exposure (sun, partial sun or shade) and moisture (wet, dry, semi-moist).

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Backyard and beach reading for just 25cents a book! JoEllen Armstrong reminds us that the Friends of the Aurora Library now hold book sales twice a month. Check with the library for days and times. Easier still, there's an ongoing book sale of gently used books available for purchase whenever the library is open, just across from the checkout counter.

Diane Brubaker, the Friends' indefatigable membership chair, alerts all members that their annual renewal notices will be arriving soon. Moderately priced membership dues help support the programs and supplement book and media purchases.

Diane will be happy to answer your membership questions. You can reach her at debru@roadrunner.com. Membership forms are available at the library.

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Calling all hikers! The 1,400-mile Buckeye Trail winds throughout Ohio, linking our state from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Moebius Nature Center will host the Crooked River chapter of the Buckeye Trail Association May 6 at 7 p.m., when volunteers will present the history and evolution of the scenic trail and offer experience and basic tips for planning a hike on part, or all, of the trail.

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Sadly, we take a moment to remember one of Aurora's best -- former City Councilman Joe Kastelic -- who died recently. A retired fire-fighter, Joe was a devoted family man who was often seen jogging in his Eggleston Road neighborhood, volunteering at July 4 fun runs and staffing the polls on election day.

Nearly seven years ago, Joe was stricken with a debilitating illness so rare there is no cause, no test and no cure -- Multiple System Atrophy -- a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease. Joe's amazing wife Anne and their family encourage donations be made to help research this devastating disease to: MSA Coalition www.multiplesystematrophy.org.

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Aurora's Memorial Day tributes will begin May 29 at 9:30 a.m. with an American Legion cremony at Veterans Memorial Park on East Garfield Road next to Howard Hannah, followed by a parade at 10 a.m. from the park to Aurora Cemetery.