The organization’s largest annual fundraiser drew 4,000 in attendance last year, hopes for more this year
The Voorhees Animal Orphanage Woofstock Festival is quickly approaching, with the annual festival celebrating its 22nd year on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at John Connolly Park. The event drew approximately 4,000 people last year and expects a similar turnout.
The VAO is now in its 30th year, currently serving as the community shelter for 16 Camden County municipalities, including Berlin Borough, making the organization the landing spot for any animals collected by animal control or surrendered by residents in any of those towns.
Woofstock serves as the organization’s largest annual fundraiser with all proceeds going toward continuing general operations for the year from food and water for the animals, to light and heat, medical procedures and more.
In essence, all money raised helps ensure the VAO has the ability to provide exceptional care to the animals throughout the year.
“We ask for a $2 donation at the gate and all of that that goes toward our general operations for the year,” said Jennifer Bailey, marketing director for the VAO. “Because again, the only guaranteed source of income that we have are those contracts that we have (with townships). We know we’re going to do adoptions, but there’s no guarantee how many each month.”
At the event will be more than 100 vendors, with some for people and some for their pets, as well as live music and food trucks. Approximately 30 additional animal rescue groups will be at the festival (including a pig rescue) as well, many with adoptable animals looking for their forever home.
Also, a Woofstock staple in the gift basket raffle will once again take place. Last year, thanks to the organization’s fundraising efforts, the raffle featured 200 baskets.
Bailey has seen the Woofstock festival take off in recent years, since taking the lead on the project, in terms of attendance and donations to the shelter.
“I took this over three years ago; we’ve doubled what we’ve been able to make over those three years so wouldn’t it be nice to do that again?” said Bailey. “But we’re really just hoping for an upward trend. The more we make the better it is for the shelter overall.”
Of the approximately 150 volunteers the organization has, more than 100 will be working Woofstock from around 6 a.m. until the site area is empty and the animals that weren’t adopted are returned back to the shelter.
The orphanage is also hosting a 50/50, with tickets able to be purchased up until Woofstock and also at the festival. The money raised from that project is already earmarked for a much larger and well-needed purpose.
“It’s our new building fund,” said Bailey. “Ultimately, the whole thing, including land improvements and everything, should come to about $1.5 million. Our plan is to get started by year-end to break ground. It would be like a brand new facility.”
The land the VAO currently sits on makes it essentially impossible for expansion, as the area behind the building is swampland and not possible to be built on, according to Bailey. However, much-needed renovations are needed to the layout of the land.
The orphanage has about half of the money it expects to need for the project saved, however are still in desperate need of a large donor to ensure the project can get underway to improve the VAO’s ability to care for the animals.
Woofstock is on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 605 Centennial Boulevard in John Connolly Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those attending are asked to donate $2 as an entry fee at the gate and may bring their “well-socialized” pets, however they should not be on a retractable leash to ensure no problems. The rain date of the event is Sunday, Oct. 6.