Pet Rock Fest benefits animal causes for 20th year

Sarah Stewart tosses a Frisbee for her dog Detour to catch during a Pets in the Air presentation.

By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Grafton – Comfortably cool temperatures Sept. 9 were a welcomed break from the humid dog days of summer for about 2,500 animal and music lovers attending the 20th annual Pet Rock Festival on the grounds of Wyman-Gordon in North Grafton. This marked the festival’s second year in North Grafton after previously taking place in Shrewsbury, Worcester and Sturbridge. Once again, proceeds go to New England animal welfare organizations.

The five-hour event balanced fun activities with education on animal issues. Representatives from numerous animal organizations provided information about their causes. Only vegetarian food was available.

Among the afternoon’s musical entertainers was singer-songwriter-guitarist Javier Colon, winner on the inaugural season of NBC-TV’s “The Voice.” He opened for platinum-selling singer-songwriter-guitarist Ryan Cabrera, who took requests from festival-goers for his hits including “On the Way Down,” “True” and “Shine On.”

A K-9 demonstration was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police as well as a fun Frisbee-fetching presentation by Pups in the Air. Dog owners challenged themselves and their pets on an agility course with assistance from the Central Massachusetts Disaster Animal Response Team. Festival-goers enjoyed viewing contestants vie in an amateur dog show with medals, trophies and prizes awarded for best ears, sweetest face, vocal talent, “waggiest” tail and owner-dog lookalikes.

Participants of a pet parade shared stories ranging from animal adoption opportunities to recovery from abuse. Particular attention was given to two parade pets and their owners. At three-weeks-old in 2012, a blue nose pit bull now named Hudson the Railroad Puppy was found nailed to railroad tracks and needed a leg amputated. Hudson’s current owner Richard Nash spreads awareness about animal cruelty and recovery with a Facebook page titled “Hudson the Railroad Puppy.” A Chihuahua mix now known as Oliver was found tied to a bench and left to die. Oliver’s current owner Taunya Damon founded the Little Oliver Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps abused animals.

Festival-goers were offered slices of decorated cake to celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary.

For more information about the Pet Rock Festival, its fundraising and animal welfare education efforts, visit and

Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.

Mark Sartell and Brittany Maag get a portrait taken with their dog Cole.
Christina French hugs her dog Myla after she completes an agility course.
Performing for festival-goers on the music stage is Javier Colon, winner on the inaugural season of NBC-TV’s “The Voice.”
Kate Cote with her cat Sampson (right) pass pet parade judges (l to r) state Sen. Michael Moore, Worcester County’s Clerk of Courts Dennis McManus and District Attorney Joe Early Jr.
Massachusetts State Police Trooper Gregory Valentine conducts a K-9 demonstration with Kyber.
Posing with costumed mascots are (front) Hudson the Railroad Puppy and Oliver.
Teagan Moran, 7, gets to pet a red tail boa named Ekans, which is “snake” spelled backward.
Wearing matching pink socks, Grafton High School freshman Emily Anderson and her dog Ozzy win Owner-Dog Lookalikes.
Pet Rock Festival co-founders Jeannie Hebert and Charlene Arsenault welcome guests to the event.
Pet Rock Festival entertainment headliner Ryan Cabrera takes requests from his fans while performing on the music stage.