Skunks Are Stars At Skunk Fest

Hundreds of people from numerous states gathered at Skunk Fest to celebrate these unique pets, and raise funds for the nonprofit rescue, shelter and education organization Skunk Haven.

More than 900 people and more than 50 skunks attended this year’s Skunk Fest in North Ridgeville, Ohio, on September 9, 2012, said Deb Cipriani, president of Skunk Haven, a nonprofit shelter, rescue and education organization. This marked the eleventh year for the gathering, and Cipriani said that attendees came from nine other states outside of Ohio, including California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

“I loved seeing all the beautiful skunks and meeting their owners,” said Brigette Williams of Second Chances Wildlife Center in Kentucky. “It was interesting to see the various personalities of the skunks. We will attend another one for sure!” Her enthusiasm spilled over into pictures. She posted more than 30 photos of her trip to Skunk Fest on the Second Chances Wildlife Center Facebook page.

Williams lives in Kentucky, one of many states where pet skunks are illegal, but she began rehabilitating wild skunks when she started Second Chances Wildlife Center in 2009. She attended Skunk Fest with two non-releasable skunks she rehabilitated, Milton and Benny. “What struck me funny was just standing with my Milton in my arms, looking around and seeing five other skunks being held by their owners,” Williams said. “It was just so foreign to me, so foreign to see that many skunks in one place.”

Doug Potter has attended Skunk Fest five times and drives to it from Florida. This year he brought his two skunks Harley, 6, and Willie, 5. He said he plans to return as long as he is able. “All in all, I think we had a great event,” Potter said. “We’ve gotten all positive feedback from the vendors that were there, and many that attended. As we do each year, we try to look for anything we didn’t like and do better next year.”

This year, Skunk Fest was held in a different section of South Central Park than in previous years. “Although many of us weren’t sure about the new site in the trees, we all seemed to like it afterward,” Potter said.

Cipriani also liked the new location. “We were in the woods with trees covering the skyline,” she said. “The shade made it better when the sun came out for all the animals that came with all the rescue groups, and the skunks too. The Fest vendors were in a circle, making it easier to walk to and see everyone.”

Robin Schienle is a wanna-be-skunk owner from Michigan who really enjoyed the event. What did she like best? “All the different-colored skunks, and people walking them on leashes and holding them, and getting to pet them all.” Schienle also saw a blonde raccoon at the event and talked to its owner. “The owner also had skunks there, but he said a blonde raccoon only happens once in 10,000 births. And ‘Taz’ was very friendly, so I got to pet him and scratch him under his chin.”

Prizes for king, queen, prince and princess were awarded to four skunks that attended. King and queen are given to skunks more than a year old, while prince and princess are given to skunks less than a year old. This year’s winners were King Herbie, owned by Renee Pearstein; Queen May, owned by Nancy Green; Prince Bandit, owned by Gail Geneslie; and Princess Viola, owned by Deb Cipriani.

Cipriani said this event had other big news, with Petco there giving away free items and Dick Goddard, a well-respected local weatherman, attending to give out calendars and do a book signing he donated to Skunk Haven.

Skunk Fest is a great opportunity to meet skunks, talk about skunks and shop for skunks, but Cipriani said that’s not all. “It’s more than a skunk show. We have many rescue groups come to try and raise money for their organization and try to adopt out their animals. Rescue groups such as Siamese cats, birds, barnyard animals, ferrets, dogs and more.” She’s already reminding people to mark their calendars for Skunk Fest 2013, which takes place on September 14, 2013.

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