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PETALUMA, CA - JUNE 20: A Chihuahua named Elwood sits with his tongue out before the start of the 20th Annual Ugliest Dog Competition June 20, 2008 at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. Owners of ugly dogs travel to Petaluma from all over the country to participate in the annual contest. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Calling all ugly dogs.
The ugliest one was crowned this weekend in the North Bay.
The world-famous staple of the Sonoma-Marin Fair for 21 years took place at the Petaluma Fairgrounds Friday night.
Fair officials said this is the year the Chinese Cresteds' hold on the World's Ugliest Dog title may end.
A boxer, shepherd, Shar Pei, Chinese Pug and mutt or two are vying for the title this year, Sonoma-Marin Fair spokeswoman Vicki DeArmon said.
The purse for the winner has doubled to $1,000 this year, DeArmon said.
Only four of this year's 15 contestants competed last year and the new breeds are largely local dogs. Fair officials said the poor economy seems to have taken a toll on entries from beyond California.
Princess Chelsea from Fairfield, and Reggie and Veronica from Phoenix, Ariz., are returning to compete.
The only returning champion is Rascal, still ugly after all these years. The 7-pound purebred Chinese Crested from Sunnyvale won the title in 2002.
The dog that wins the runoff between the pedigree and mutt classes will compete with Rascal for the title, DeArmon said.
The winner gets $1,000 and a trophy from the Fair, but House of Dog, a manufacturer of sophisticated dog accessories is awarding a yearlong modeling contract and another $1,000.
Animal Planet will film the show and is also offering a prize. The winner will have a professional photo shoot by photographer Grace Chon of Shine Pet Photos the next day at the Sheraton Petaluma.
Dogs may be entered up until the last hour of the contest but walk-ups on Friday will pay a $20 fee.
"We are looking for dogs who are naturally ugly," Fair Board member and judge Brian Sobel said.
The fair runs through Sunday.