“The Cat’s out of the Bag!” Tryon, NC announces America’s 1st Feline Dog Mayor!

The small, quirky, artsy and “horsey”  town of Tryon located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, is known for being the “Friendliest Town in the South” and elected its first Dog Mayor on September 27, 2019. Oddly enough, Rusty Bunshine, the Inaugural Tryon Dog Mayor, is a CAT!

The Tryon Downtown Development Association came up with the idea as a part of their monthly “4th Friday” event series with shops open late and entertainment downtown. The idea for the Dog Mayor election was to promote Tryon as the “Dog Friendliest Town in the South!” 

The rules of the election were simple: $1 = 1 vote, no limit on votes, the ballot box could be stuffed, and there were no residency requirements to vote or enter. There were no species requirements for the Dog Mayor election, as Tryon is known as the “Friendliest Town in the South” and welcome all… pure breds, mutts and even cats. Plus, all of the election’s proceeds went to the Foothills Humane Society, so the more the merrier, regardless of species! When Rusty Bunshine the cat entered the race, election coordinators all agreed that anyone can buy this election, and if a cat gets the most votes, the cat wins!

Competition was fierce among the many respective candidates proffering themselves as the ideal choice to serve in the municipal role as Tryon Dog Mayor.

Tryon’s Human Mayor Alan People announced the winner, proclaiming “The Cat is out of the Bag! Rusty Bunshine is our Mayor!” to cheers from the crowd. He followed with an even bigger announcement, that the election raised $16,482 to the Foothills Humane Society! 

Rusty Bunshine’s Campaign Managers with Duchess – Vice Mayor

Rusty Bunshine campaigned hard for the election with slogan “FEEL THE BUN!” and beat the odds and received an astonishing 3459 votes (=$3459 to the Foothills Humane Society). “I’m so excited to serve as the Inaugural Dog Mayor of Tryon! It’s an honor to be elected and serve the town that I love” interpreted by Bunshine’s campaign manager, Dulcinea Juenger, “I’m lucky to have Duchess as my Vice Mayor who can serve in more of the canine capacities.” Rusty Bunshine’s first action as Dog Mayor is to support the dogs downtown by making custom water bowls for all of the downtown businesses. 

Duchess the Staffordshire Terrier received the second highest votes, making her the Vice Mayor (or Mayor Pro Tempore) in the race. Duchess was our only candidate available for adoption in the race, but she wasn’t available for long! Duchess found her furr-ever home Saturday after the election.

Duchess awarded Vice-Mayor with the second highest votes

Rounding out the council are Alaska, Charlie and Andy Dandy (third, fourth and fifth respectively). 

The final vote count was 16,482 total votes… that is nearly TEN TIMES the total population of the Town of Tryon. Downtown Tryon was packed with people and dogs on Friday night, with many candidates offering bribes with dog treats, cupcakes, and kisses. The total election was a win for all by promoting Downtown Tryon and supporting our local animal rescue.

Jamie Carpenter, executive director of TDDA, the organization who host the monthly events said,  “We wanted to promote how friendly Tryon is to all. Our stores offer dog water dishes and treats, we have outdoor dining options that will offer dog-friendly meals, and you can even walk your dog along the sidewalk of Trade Street while enjoying a beer or wine.” She noted that every month there are special activities on the 4th Friday, but there’s fun to be had in Tryon every day of the week with great restaurants, pubs, coffee house, art galleries, performance venues and a movie theatre!

The Town of Tryon looks forward to Rusty Bunshine’s year of service as the “Dog Mayor of Tryon” and we excitedly await the nominations for next year’s Dog Mayor… will a canine take the lead? Or perhaps the historically Equestrian Community will have a Dog Mayor who takes the “REIGNS.” Save the date for next September!

Tryon is conveniently located off Interstate 26 between Greenville and Spartanburg, SC and Asheville, NC. There are a variety of bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals and plenty to do to enjoy a whole weekend in Downtown Tryon, including a number of independent shops and restaurants as well as outdoor adventures and historic sites such as the birthplace of Nina Simone. See more and plan your trip at www.exploretryon.com.

Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) works to revitalize and preserve downtown Tryon through economic development, quality design and preserving the historic nature of downtown, and promotion of downtown. We do this through partnerships with the Polk County Community Foundation, businesses, local government and governing boards, and more. For more information on how to open up a business in Downtown Tryon, please visit www.downtowntryon.org. Or call 828-859-6484.