Mardi Growl ’23: You can’t stop smiling!

This smiling drum major took first place in the “Vol Spirit” category!

There are few happier places to be in Knoxville than at the annual Mardi Growl parade and festival benefiting Young-Williams Animal Center.

This year’s event was held last Saturday at World’s Fair Park, after a parade from the Old City. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to attend next year: be prepared for your face to hurt from smiling so much! It’s literally impossible not to be happy when you are at this fun event.

Young-Williams is the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County. Mardi Growl is its single largest fundraiser every year. In addition to hundreds of happy hounds and their people, at Mardi Growl you will see about 100 vendors catering to dogs and dog lovers, numerous food trucks and an enthusiastic group of volunteers staffing the adult beverage booth where, we were told, drinks like Bloody Marys and Mimosas out-sold beer by a long shot! Music was provided again this year by an energetic and versatile band called K-Town, which bills itself as “Knoxville’s house band!”

Young-Williams Animal Center’s mission is to lead the community to end pet homelessness, promote animal welfare and enhance the human-animal bond. In 2018, Young-Williams achieved for the first time in its history “no-kill” status. The definition of “no-kill” means saving all medically and behaviorally treatable animals and maintaining a save rate of 90% or more. I am so proud of Young-Williams and everyone who works there.

It was a beautiful day Saturday. Perfect for a parade and outdoor festival!

Another contestant in the “Vol Spirit” category, no doubt!

Janet Testerman, CEO of Young-Williams, was helping sell products in the adult beverage booth.

Haha. These were the first place winners in the “Two of a Kind” category. It used to be called the “Dog-Owner Look-Alike” category.

This cute shark and lobster were part of the winning team in the “Dog Pack” category — an entry featuring a group of dogs. These were part of a group that formed an “aquarium.” Good one.

This octopus went along with them in the virtual aquarium!

Here’s the Spay Shuttle, a mobile spay and neuter unit operated by Young-Williams.

A minion!

Rev. Jerry Askew, left, a deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, and congregant David Eldridge. They were staffing the St. John’s booth where dogs could receive blessings.

Rev. Askew blessing a dog.

There was a vintage fire truck to play on!

Another prize winner: How about this Alice in Wonderland tea party setup!

Meanwhile, back at the adult beverage tent, from left, Cliff Hawks, Janet Testerman, Mitchell Moseley, Jacque Hawks and Meg Lonon checking IDs and handing out the product.

And Joey Creswell selling me a pinot grigio!

Janet Testerman Crossley with her doggie, Gracie, kept the workers company.

Elsbeth Freeman with Isadora.

Here’s Fritter with her parents, Alex Owens and Allie Clouse. Allie works at Moxley Carmichael and helps with the Young-Williams account.

Moxley Carmichael CEO Lauren Miller with her husband, John, and children, Ellie and Pax.

Knoxville Utilities Board was on hand to give out cold water — to people and dogs!

Referee dog.

Ran into our downtown neighbors, Peter and Jen Moore.

The Krewe of King Leroy!

The CEO and her lunch!

Jeff Talman, who said he plans to run for Knoxville mayor this year, and Jennifer Ackley, the executive director of Wolf PAWS, Inc., a sanctuary for wolf-dog hybrids.

Haha. A hot dog and bottle of ketchup! And a cute bumblebee.

Great seeing the Girl Scouts there!

Ran into my friend Elba Marshall and her husband, Matt.

These three took home first place in the “Vol Spirit” category in a previous year. Their names are Oscar, Meyer and Frank! Cute!

K-Town, the band, took requests. That’s how versatile they are. Here’s a clip of them playing one of those requests, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Enjoy!



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11 Responses to Mardi Growl ’23: You can’t stop smiling!

  1. Georgiana Vines, on March 7th, 2023 at 1:30 pm said:

    Lots to smile about with your photos.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on March 7th, 2023 at 1:50 pm said:

    George: Thanks! Sure was a lot of good material!

  3. Meg, on March 7th, 2023 at 3:04 pm said:

    What a terrific event and such a beautiful Knoxville day!!!

  4. Jim Bennett, on March 8th, 2023 at 3:55 am said:

    Winners, all.

  5. Lauren Miller, on March 8th, 2023 at 10:30 am said:

    What a fun day. The kids were amazed by all the dog costumes!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on March 8th, 2023 at 10:37 am said:

    Meg and Jim: I agree!

    Lauren: So was I!

  7. Christine Dano Johnson, on March 8th, 2023 at 2:20 pm said:

    I’m obsessed with King Leroy! It’s like a celebrity sighting every time I spot him downtown. 🙂

  8. Phyllis And Charlie Severance, on March 8th, 2023 at 2:31 pm said:

    Loved the Pride of the Southland Bands Drum Major. Just FYI a lot of us “old Folks” used to call Little Janet Testerman “Tweetzy”

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on March 9th, 2023 at 9:30 pm said:

    Christine: He definitely was a celebrity at Mardi Growl!

    Severances: I have noticed that some of her family members still call her that!

  10. Annette Brun, on March 10th, 2023 at 7:55 pm said:

    My Mom and I had a vendor booth there and didn’t see anyone in these photos and I know many of them. I guess we should have gone to the beer tent!

  11. Cynthia Moxley, on March 10th, 2023 at 8:09 pm said:

    Hey, Annette: What was your booth? Didn’t know you had one! The adult beverage tent really was a hub of activity! Ha.

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