Petapalooza returns

Petapalooza took a break in 2008 due to scheduling conflicts but it has returned in 2009, bigger and better than ever.

The charity event, launched by Reno Ciantar in July 2007, features fun and games, music by local bands and fundraising opportunities in a festival-type atmosphere in order to raise funds for the Cayman Islands Humane Society.

Mr. Ciantar, who is also a member of the band Suckerbox, decided to start the event in 2007 because he had been ‘thinking about setting up a concert featuring local talent,’ he said. ‘I have very strong feelings towards compassionate and ethical treatment of animals and animal rights and have participated in a few fundraising events for the Humane Society.

‘Just around the same time, I heard on the radio that there was a shelter in Broward County, Florida, that had a demand for puppies and would accept as many as the local Humane Society shelter could send.’

Thus, Mr. Ciantar decided the concert would be a charity event, primarily to generate revenue for the Broward Puppy Airlift Programme.

This year the event will be held in front of the Brickhouse restaurant in Grand Harbour, and whereas in 2007 the event had five local bands sign on to provide entertainment, this year 11 local acts have put their names to the event.

‘The interest from the music community was overwhelming and very welcome,’ said Patrick Bourque, sponsorship and volunteer coordinator for the event. ‘Every band jumped at the chance to play at this venue and have all volunteered themselves to perform free of charge.’

Barefoot Man, Suite Elite, Smooth Bill, Gone Country, Charlie Goes Electric, Sea’n’B, Core, Gary Ebanks Band, Musical Crew, Suckerbox and Big Eye Squirrel are the musical acts entertaining the crowds this year.

When asked why he signed on to perform at the event, George Nowak, also known as the Barefoot Man, responded with his usual sense of humour.

‘My wife has five dogs, a cat and a horse … if I didn’t take part, she would neuter me,’ he joked.

Corporate sponsors have also shown their support, despite trying economic times often resulting in slashed sponsorship budgets.

‘Seventeen businesses have offered to take part,’ said Mr. Bourque. ‘Initially we went through some difficulty getting some to commit due to the market conditions and cutbacks in spending; however, we had an idea to invite the employees from larger organisations to run casual days for the staff in exchange for a corporate sponsorship.

‘This really demonstrated the community’s support on both private and corporate levels … If anything is to be taken from this, it is that Cayman has a very generous workforce.’

All proceeds will go to the Cayman Islands Humane Society and this year, organisers have set the fundraising goal high.

‘In 2007 we raised more than $8,000 for the Humane Society Broward Puppy Airlift; it was a huge success,’ said Mr. Bourque.

‘This year our goal is to raise $10,000 and all funds will be put towards ongoing renovations at the shelter including much-needed new stainless steel cages for the quarantine room and the new puppy room.’

The event is a family- and pet-friendly occasion and will run from 2pm to 12am on Saturday, 23 May.