| Danielle Eaton
SPRINGFIELD – Each year hundreds of people gather with their pets at Fort Hill Brewery to support the Dakin Humane Society at their Barks and Brews event. This year, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the event has been reimagined to keep everyone safe and still allow them to connect with each other.
Dakin’s Director of Development and Marketing Stacey Price said the event, which is normally their “largest in person event,” is being called Barks and Brews At Home this year. She said on average, each year, the event has “about 600” people in attendance and “brings anywhere from $35[,000] to $40,000.”
She said instead of having people show up at the brewery for the event, instead, those wanting to attend will purchase tickets virtually and attend the event via an online platform.
The hour-long event, she said, will consist of submitted videos of funniest pets, videos of pets performing talents, trivia, polls and other ways for participants to interact with one another. Price said, “There’s a lot of fun activities taking place, we still wanted to keep that fun element and bring it into people’s homes.”
She described the event as a “feel good event” and said she felt like an event such as this was needed more than ever. “More positivity is needed,” she said, and added that in this event allows those in attendance to “still share something with your pet.”
Price said in addition to the fun activities planned, they will also be handing out their Humane Awards and recognizing winners of the awards.
Price said they were anticipating at least 300 people would attend the event. She explained that the event usually takes place at the Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton, where those in attendance enjoy food, music and beer. This year, as attendees won’t be able to visit the brewery, those who purchase tickets will be given two beer tokens they can redeem at a later time. The token can be used at the brewery at any time, do not expire and can be redeemed by anyone over the age of 21. “It gives people participating the opportunity to use the token at their leisure,” she said.
She said while they would be able to host more than 300 attendees online, there was no guarantee they’d be able to distribute more than 300 beer tokens. The limited amount of beer tokens, Price said, was due to the “generosity of Fort Hill” as they had donated the beer tokens for the event.
Also included in the price of a ticket is a Barks and Brews t-shirt. Price said those who bought tickets to the event would be able to pick up their t-shirt on Sept. 30 via curbside pickup at Fort Hill Brewery.
Price said Dakin is in need of fundraising events now more than ever. “Fundraising efforts are even more important than ever,” she said, adding that COVID-19 is “impacting people financially.”
She said Dakin “needs those funds to continue to operate,” as their programming and services did not stop in light of the pandemic. She said they have continued to operate as people continued to surrender their pets, utilized Dakin’s emergency food bank, and used their spay and neuter clinic.
“These services don’t stop, it’s not an option based on people’s needs,” Price said. She continued and said that due to COVID-19 people “can’t get appointments in a timely manner” with their normal vets, so they’re turning to Dakin to help.
Price said most recently, the organization hit a milestone record with the amount of pet food they’d distributed via their emergency food bank to those in need. “The food bank surpassed half a million meals from Jan. 1 to August,” she said. “It’s unprecedented, we’ve never given out that much pet food ever.”
She said she suspects “that the effects of COVID could result in more animal surrenders.” Price said ultimately, they have programs in place to keep pets and their pets together, including those who are diagnosed with the virus. However, she said that they have seen a “slight shift” in the type of animals they’re helping.
“We’ve seen a slight shift in the animals that we’re helping, and the animals that we’re helping are the most vulnerable,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, and currently, Dakin has implemented appointment–only adoptions and curbside pickup/drop-offs. She said while they are accepting donations, they are only accepting donations of items on their amazon wish list that are high need items and pet food. “We’re trying to keep it to what we absolutely need,” she said.
Dakin’s Amazon wish list can be found at https://www.dakinhumane.org/our-wish-list.html. Those who wish to donate momentarily can do so online at https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/DonationPage.aspx?eventid=308389&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=https%3a%2f%2fwww.dakinhumane.org%2f.
Ultimately, she said she anticipates that Barks and Brews At Home will be just as successful as previous events and help contribute funding to the essential programs Dakin provides. “[I just] hope it’ll have the same vibe that Barks and Brews in person had, but virtually,” she said. “[It’s] just a nice way to celebrate our pets and the time we’re spending with our pets.”
Barks and Brews at Home will take place on Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. via Zoom. Tickets cost $30 and can be bought at https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/TicketingCatalog.aspx?eventid=337076&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=direct%2fnone.