Cruz Bay will go to the dogs as St. John Animal Care Center hosts the 15th annual Wagapalooza at Winston Wells ballpark from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
The family-friendly, distinctly island-style dog show is the non-profit animal welfare organization’s second biggest fundraiser of the year and helps the ACC ensure that the doors to its no-kill shelter remain open.
Instead of judges inspecting a pure bred’s tail length, Wagapalooza contestants will compete in categories ranging from Best Old Timer to Best Look-Alike. Other categories include Best Junior Handler, Best Rescue and Best Trick. The winners in each category will be eligible to take home the coveted titles of Waga King and Waga Queen.
A highlight of the event each year is the “Babe Award,” given to the dog that has made the most miraculous change in spirit and health since it entered the ACC shelter.
Even dogs who aren’t competing will have a chance to strut their stuff. For a $5 donation, any dog can participate in the evening’s entertaining Parade of Paws.
Waga will also feature fresh popcorn, face painting and a kids activity tent. The event is geared toward families with the aim of sending the message that animals are part of the family, explained ACC Shelter Manager Ryan Moore.
“This is a fun family event but we also hope that it shows some educational aspects too,” Moore said. “Waga shows that dogs can be social and enjoy other dogs and people. Your dogs can be brought out and be with you. They don’t have to be home alone.”
“This is about the animals and how they are part of the family,” Moore said.
The event was launched in 2000 by Jolly Dog owners Jeff Donnelly and Jennifer Knowles, along with original Skinny Legs owners Maurice Chabuz and the late Doug Sica. The event was hosted at Skinny Legs for its first seven years until crowds and participants outgrew the Coral Bay restaurant’s backyard area. Waga has been hosted in Cruz Bay for the last eight years and has enjoyed a steadily increasing number of both participants and supporters.
All funds raised at Waga go toward the care and upkeep of neglected and abandoned cats and dogs on St. John.
For more information and to make a donation to the St. John ACC, visit www.wagapalooza.com