Produced by Duncan Strauss, WMNF 88.5 Community Radio and several dozen WMNF volunteers, the Talking Animals Festival was a sprawling, multifaceted outdoor event held at Tampa’s Lowry Park (next door to the zoo) in April of 2010 and then again in April of 2011.
Among other elements, the Festival featured 60+ vendors selling and non-profit organizations (including animal rescues) tabling, pet adoption, a dozen bands performing animal songs, animal art, speakers, contests, food, and a number of other family-friendly and animal friendly offerings.
For example, under the auspices of Animal Coalition of Tampa and veterinarian Dr. Jeanne Hart, the Talking Animals Festival offered low-cost micro-chipping both years. Other aspects of the Festival—which was free to attend both years—ranged from yoga classes for kids and healthy weight check-ups of family pets, to a bounce house and soccer-playing dogs, and more.
The Festival was immensely successful and popular, drawing crowds estimated at 3000-4000 the first year and 4000 to 6000+ the second year. It also generated a wealth of favorable media coverage in print, radio, television and online.
Still, while the event was deemed a triumph on just about every level, Strauss felt—given the demands on his time (essentially an extra full-time job for more than half the year) and the time of countless others, as well as a multitude of the radio station’s resources–that the Talking Animals Festival generated far too little revenue for WMNF for it to be practical to continue the event.
It was fantastic that the event was free to attend, but the Festival would need to be significantly reconfigured for it be re-launched in a way that made more financial sense for WMNF, and was otherwise more practical to produce.
As it stands now, the Talking Animals Festival has been tabled, though, fortunately, many people are left with all sorts of warm, wonderful memories of those April afternoons.