Port Covington has gone dog-wild! On Saturday, May 5, thousands of animal lovers flocked to The Field in Port Covington for the 2018 Maryland SPCA Festival for the Animals, the MD SPCA’s largest fundraiser, which has been drawing crowds of Marylanders for more than 22 years. This year, the festival not only included the annual walk-a-thon, but also added a free outdoor music concert featuring local, regional and national music acts sponsored by the Port Covington Development Team and Weller Entertainment.

The walk-a-thon, attended by over 3,000 supporters, began in West Covington Park at 101 W. Dickman Street outside of Port Covington’s City Garage. The morning festivities kicked-off with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and opening remarks from supporters like Mayor Catherine Pugh, Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, Senator Barbara A. Robinson, and Thomas Maulding, General Counsel at Weller Development, among others.

After the attendees walked along the newly installed bike path on the waterfront towards The Field, located across the street from the Sagamore Spirit distillery, guests were able to continue the celebration with food trucks, specialty drinks, lawn games and an afternoon full of live music. There were special contests for pet look-a-likes, best trick and best costume voted on by “celebrity judges,” which included Baltimore Ravens Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis, as well as friends from the CBS Baltimore, WMAR-2 News Baltimore and WBFF FOX 45 news teams.

“The Port Covington Development Team was thrilled to host the Maryland SPCA Festival for the Animals and bring this wonderful event to South Baltimore,” said Thomas Maulding, General Counsel at Weller Development.  “As a member of the Maryland SPCA’s Board of Directors, I was already committed to helping raise funding and awareness for the Maryland SPCA, especially through our largest fundraising event of the year. Moving this year’s location to Port Covington allowed the MD SPCA to expand the event and add a few new, fun elements such as the contests, food vendors, and live music. We hope to welcome the Festival for the Animals to Port Covington for years come!”

The Festival for the Animals concert kicked-off with music from local band J Pope and the HearNow, followed by Electric Love Machine, and Eze Jackson and the Backwudz Band with set breaks by DJ Chris Brooks. The headliner was The Original Wailers of Bob Marley fame. Weller Entertainment organized the free, post-march concert to bring local, regional and national music acts to Port Covington to celebrate. The managing director of Weller Entertainment Chip Watkins said, “To see all of the smiling faces as people and their pets took advantage the gorgeous, green spaces in Port Covington was incredibly rewarding. To be able to host such a large-scale event and help the Maryland SPCA grow into a festival-style event is exactly what Weller Entertainment aims to do.”

The buzz around the event inspired Mayor Catherine Pugh to proclaim that ‪May 5 will further be known as Pet Day in Baltimore City. Despite the rain showers in the area, thousands of attendees including tortoises, kittens and of course dogs of all sizes, enjoyed the afternoon’s festivities including free doggie daycare, designated pet-safe zones in the concert area to ensure the safety and health of any pets during the concert, a vendor village filled with local businesses and food trucks like Park and Perk, Deedles Donuts, Gypsy Queen Café, Anegada Delights, Farm to Charm, Bistro Lunchbox, and Miss Twist.

“It was an all-around wonderful, fun-filled day of recreation and music that brought people of all ages and their pets together at Port Covington, while also helping us to raise the funds needed to continue delivering our programs and services to the community,” said Jim Peirce, executive director for the Maryland SPCA. “Because of the generosity of individuals and companies, including our host, the Port Covington Development Team, and presenting sponsor M&T Bank, $375,000 was raised at this year’s Festival for the Animals.”

The Maryland SPCA collects donations year-round. If you’d like to volunteer or donate to the Maryland SPCA, visit www.mdspca.org.