Ooh la la! Mardi Growl delights in its 14th year — despite the heat and change of date, venue

Debbie Jones’ dog, Tavis, was dressed as a Frenchman. Turns out, he actually has been to Paris!

Mardi Growl, the annual Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center, was postponed three months this year due to COVID-19. And then it was moved from its usual location on Market Square to bigger, more wide-open space on World’s Fair Park. And the temperature was approaching 90!

But, still, it was so much fun!

“You can’t walk through here without a smile on your face,” observed Joey Creswell, who attended the event on Saturday. And he was absolutely right. Hundreds of dogs and thousands of their people paraded, played, shopped and even got blessed by the clergy from St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral during an afternoon of activities.

Young-Williams Animal Center’s mission is to lead the community to end pet homelessness, promote animal welfare and enhance the human-animal bond. It is the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County.

Tavis in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Young-Williams Animal Center.)

“Young Willie” is the mascot of Young-Williams Animal Center. Here he is greeting guests at the entrance to Mardi Growl on Saturday.

In this post-COVID time, it seemed wise to have a large place to spread out the event.

Big tubs of water were placed around and many dogs, including these, took the opportunity to cool off in them.

Haha! This flying saucer contains a little alien! That’s Erin Donovan, who handles social media for Young-Williams, documenting the scene.

A flamenco dancer!

This dog is dressed as a Mardi Gras float!

A rodeo horse with rider.

These two hunters took home the plaque in the owner-dog look-alike category.

Talk about clever. How about this Starbucks drive-thru?

Friendly dog shaking hands.

Some of the contest judges: Mark and Kristin Williams with Andrea Bailey, on right.

Cute family! Maria and Kevin McHale with Renleigh, front, and Avery. Maria works at Moxley Carmichael and handles the Young-Williams Animal Center account.

“Homer the Hound,” the mascot of the Tennessee Smokies baseball team, made an appearance.

A dalmatian family!

Dino Cartwright, left, was the event’s emcee. Janet Testerman, second from left, is CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center (and a Knoxville City Council member). Erin Donovan, second from right, does social media for Young-Williams. And Jacque Hawks, right, is a downtown neighbor and friend.

Dean John Ross staffing the St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral booth. The team was passing out koozies and promoting what they call “Dog Church” — a casual dog-friendly Sunday service that the downtown church holds at Lakeshore Park.

The Rev. Canon Chris Hackett blesses a dog at the St. John’s Cathedral booth.

Great seeing my friend Elsbeth Freeman at the St. John’s booth.

There were lots of food trucks, but somehow this one seemed most appropriate: Hawg Dawgs! (Hotdogs wrapped in bacon!)

K-Town Music, which bills itself as “Knoxville’s house band,” provided music throughout the event.

This is the mascot for a vendor called The Spot 4 Dogs, which provides grooming, training and daycare. His name is — wait for it! — Spot!

My friends were holding down the fort at the adult beverage booth. From left, Joey Creswell, Jacque Hawks and Mitchell Moseley, who actually was working at the booth.

Janet Testerman and Ronnie Collins.

This little pup was tuckered out!

An all-round beautiful day.

Love this town.


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2 Responses to Ooh la la! Mardi Growl delights in its 14th year — despite the heat and change of date, venue

  1. Gay Lyons, on June 29th, 2021 at 3:13 pm said:

    I wondered how Mardi Growl would work at WFP. Looks like it was fun. Tavis in Paris is the cutest thing ever. I recall the first Mardi Growl very well. I can’t believe it’s been 14 years.

  2. Gary, on June 29th, 2021 at 9:15 pm said:

    Thanks to all the organizers, sponsors and volunteers! It was so wonderful to be out and about…a real celebration, complete with dogs. Such a welcome return to normalcy.

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