Closing Gilda’s Club LaughFest will be the People & Pets event from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. March 18 at the Grand Rapids Community College Ford Fieldhouse.
The pet-friendly event will feature activities for the whole family like color stations for kids, a “pawdicure” station for pets, a photo booth for the entire family and more. All of the attending pets can also be entered in any of the four contests: Best Costume, Best Pet Trick, Best Look-a-Like and Most Unique Pet. The top three winners of each contest will win a trophy courtesy of Shari’s Berries, a sponsor of the event.
“Last year somebody even brought a mini pony to our event (for Most Unique Pet),” said Jimmy Le, organizer of People & Pets. “We’re hoping someone brings in a potbellied pig. That’s been on our committee’s wish list.”
Judging the contests are local influencers Robert Torres, former Executive Director of the Hispanic Center, Monica Sparks, radio personality and author, and Doug Small, executive director of Experience GR.
“It’s fun for them (the judges) because it’s a very fun, silly contest,” Le said. “But it’s also kind of serious as well to judge these (events), so it’s an honor to be able to house people in our community to support the cause.”
People & Pets will open with a pet parade where all of the pets in attendance will get to walk through the fieldhouse and strut their stuff with their human companions. WVGU’s Shelley Irwin will serve as MC for People & Pets and ordained pastor, Ginny Mikita will offer a blessing to all of the animals.
The event continues to grow in popularity each year according to Lee with much support from the local pet community.
“We’ve had over 230 to 250 people over the past two years,” Le said. “There’s not too many pet events. There’s the pet expo, but there’s not many where your furry friends can be invited. So the pet community is kind of aware of those events and this is one that’s been around for a little bit and we have some of the same faces come around.”
Le encourages everyone to join People & Pets, even for those who do not have pets.
“You don’t have to have a pet to come,” Le said. “Everybody is welcome. If you just want to be a part of something that’s good for the community, if you’re supportive of Gilda’s Club, if you’re supportive of pets… this has kind of all of those covered.”
Gilda’s Club LaughFest is also an opportunity for members of the community to participate in raising money for the many free emotional healthcare programs Gilda’s Club offers to those coping with cancer.
“All the donations go to Gilda’s Club to help them with their different programs,” Le said. “LaughFest happens pretty fast, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s for all ages.”
Vendor tables are still available for those looking to set up a booth at People & Pets. For cost information or to sign up for a table, click here.