NORTH RIDGEVILLE — While most people have cats or dogs as pets, a number of people across the country opt for a companion with a “bad rap” — skunks.
Owners, enthusiasts and the curious public are invited the 17th annual Skunk Fest 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in South Central Park.
The event benefits Skunk Haven, a nonprofit shelter and educational center. Renee Pearlstein volunteers with the organization and the festival, after getting her first skunk in 2001. What started as a backyard picnic now draws more than 1,000 people a year, with many traveling from other states or countries.
WHAT: 17th annual Skunk Fest
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: South Central Park, 7565 Avon Belden Road, North Ridgeville
COST: Free, but organizers ask for a donation of cash, grain-free cereal, grain-free dog food, blankets or paper towels to benefit Skunk Haven
“(Skunks) get such a bad rap, and we want people to know that skunks are actually very cool animals. They’re not a great pet for everybody, but for those of us that have pets we love them and we just want to dispel the bad rap they get and take a different look at the skunks,” she said.
Attendees can expect to see several different varieties of skunk, including apricot, brown and albino, along with games for humans and skunks alike. There will be a best detective competition — where the fastest skunk to find a bag of vegetables wins — along with a costume contest and crowning of the Skunk Fest 2018 king, queen, prince and princess. There are also more than 40 vendors, including other animal shelters like California Animal Rescue and Ferrets Unlimited, and businesses like Unique Home Solutions and Cutco Cutlery.
People can get their picture taken with a skunk, Pearlstein said, for a donation, which benefits Skunk Haven. Pearlstein said skunks aren’t like what people think — they don’t have an odor, as the ones from breeders are de-scented — and each are unique. She said the animals are smart and can be challenging pets to own — which is one of the reasons she loves them.
The event is rain or shine; tents and park shelters will provide cover if inclement weather does creep in.
“We’d never let (rain) stop us because we are that much into helping the skunks and this means a great deal to us and to everyone that we help because … there are very few skunk rescues throughout the country,” she said.
The event is free, though organizers do ask for a donation of cash, grain-free cereal, grain-free dog food, blankets or paper towels to benefit Skunk Haven — and the community it serves. It asks that the only pets in attendance be those brought by shelters or the skunks.
“If you come, you’re guaranteed a good time. It’s going to be interesting,” Pearlstein said. “Try it, you’ll like it kind of thing. … Young and old they all like it, and we just want everybody to have a good time and learn something new.”