I've never really been the partying type. You won't find me enjoying myself at a loud club, or showing off any moves on a dance floor, not even a step in that direction. But when the party is for pets, how can any pet-loving person resist?
This year, thanks to the amazing efforts of our Community Outreach Director, Claire Grimes, and our fantastic staff and volunteers, I got to take a big step back from the coordination of our biggest event of the year, and enjoy it as an attendee.
Maybe I was too busy working past events to notice, or maybe this, our 5th Barkaritaville, was different somehow. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling, even the dogs, laughing, dancing and having a really great time. Even the one, brave black cat in attendance seemed to relax after a while and enjoy the atmosphere.
You have to love a party that brings people of all ages, animals, and a community together to support such a great cause. And without further ado, here's our list of winners voted on by event attendees:
In the themed booth category of Best Dish: top prize was awarded to Ann Kinney's and Debbie Roland's "The Real Horsewives of Aiken" booth with their Barbeque Mac & Cheese. I sampled it and I agree - truly a winning dish!
Best Drink went to the Haunted House booth operated by Kristina Armstrong, Michelle Floyd, Wanda Gibson, Ginny Green, and John Sanders for their Wicked Witch Potion (a spooky rum punch concoction). I also sampled this winner and it was definitely, wickedly delicious!
Awards for Best Theme and Best Overall Booth went to the same outstanding winners: Nicholl Bibly, Charity Brazzle, and Krissy Greenleaf as the Sanderson Sisters in their Hocus Pocus booth complete with a witch's cauldron and black cat (SPCA adoptee, of course). Their grand prize includes a mountain vacation to "Lorelai's Lair" in Warne, NC and a $500 Visa gift card!
This year's costume contest brought several delightfully frightening, funny, and adorable characters to the competition. The selected winners were: Charleston Staniszewski with her Cabbage Patch Baby for Best Child Costume; Sierra and Jackson as Cop and Robber (complete with black & white stripes and handcuffs) for Best Pet Costume; Will Parrish as a Dr. Mario, complete with mustache and stethoscope, for Best Adult Costume (Will was also part of "Super Spay Bros.", a Nintendo Mario Bros. themed booth); and Lida Bard with Olivia Rose and the Starlight Girls for Best Group Costume.
Barkaritaville 2017 once again raised thousands of dollars for our organization! That money will help us feed, shelter, medicate, treat and find homes for hundreds of animals that will make their way through our doors in the coming months.
We are so grateful to our staff members and volunteers for their hard work as well as to all of the booth operators, donors and party goers that made this event possible, successful and fun, including DJ Jeff Edwards for cranking out the party tunes all night.
This event would not be possible without the support of our donors and business sponsors: Aiken Saddlery, The Aiken Horse, The Aiken Standard, Atlantic Broadband, Auto Tech Inc, Avoca Equine LLC, City of Aiken Parks Recreation & Tourism, Ted Cummings Insurance Agency Inc, The Dog & Hound, Hutson-Etherredge Companies, Linda's Bistro, Return Engagement, Security Federal Bank, and Smith-Massey-Brodie-Guynn & Mayes LLC.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah's family includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.