Less-than-lovely dogs will receive special recognition at this year's World's Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma.

It's the 25th anniversary of the contest that celebrates ugly canine mugs that are sometimes so warty, splotchy or drooly that only their owners can truly appreciate their beauty.

"It's really over the top," organizer Vicki DeArmon said. "There is quite a lot of fanfare for the 25th year."

The "Dog Days of Summer" fair begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday, with special days for kids, seniors, farmers and families. The Sonoma-Marin Fair is one of the few that includes all activities — carnival rides, concerts and attractions — in a single entry price.

Syndicated radio personalities Bob & Sheri will host the World's Ugliest Dog contest on Friday, bringing their fun-filled perspectives on the lineup of dogs vying for the top prize. The day includes a dog-lover's festival with special canine events all day.

So far, 25 dogs are signed up for the anti-beauty contest, about half of which are new contestants.

"We have poodles, terriers, tons of pugs, for some reason, and some Chinese crested," DeArmon said. "There's a big mix. Generally, the winner seems to be a new dog, so it may be one of those ugly mutts."

Mugly, a Chinese crested who trudged his ugly mug from Peterborough, England, to compete last year, is not defending his crown.

Fans of the dogs will be able to have the contestants "paw-tograph" a new book, "World's Ugliest Dogs," which chronicles the history of the event with photos and stories.

The rest of the fair promises to bring old favorites and new fun, including concerts from Kellie Pickler, Kix Brooks, the Marshall Tucker Band, Loverboy and Fiesta Latina.

While most of the attractions are at eye level — livestock shows, a dizzying choice of deep-fried foods, ring-toss games, exhibits ranging from crafts to cool new products — you might want to look up from time to time.

There, you'll see fancily dressed stilt walkers from Stilt Circus, who will be performing throughout the fairgrounds each day.

The fair opens at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with discounted admission before 5 p.m.

With construction ongoing near Highway 101 and East Washington Street and at the new East Washington Place shopping center adjacent to the fairgrounds, organizers recommend carpooling and allowing extra time to arrive, especially for those going to the evening concerts.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.