An e-mail from the Front Royal Town Manager’s Office on Thursday, July 12, announced the cancellation of next month’s planned Waggin for Dragons boat race on the Shenandoah River. The 8 a.m. e-mail stated:
“Due to unforeseen circumstances the Humane Society has advised the Town that the “Waggin for Dragons” has been cancelled for this year. All funds collected will be forwarded to next year. – “We appreciate your willingness to participate.”
This was to have been the fifth annual Waggin for Dragons boat race that has become the major annual fundraiser for the Human Society and its Julia Wagner Animal Shelter’s efforts on behalf of the community’s lost and homeless animals.
Royal Examiner contacted current Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) Board of Directors President Ellen Aders who confirmed the cancellation. However, Aders noted that contributions already received will not be automatically forwarded to next year’s event, and that donors will be given the option of having their 2018 contribution returned if they wish.
“We hope people will keep the money with their boats and come back next year,” Aders said. She noted that next year’s Waggin for Dragons race on the Shenandoah River has been confirmed with the Canadian company, 22 Dragons, that supplies the boats and some support logistics for the event traditionally held on second Saturday of August. Next year’s event is on for August 10, 2019, Aders assured us.
A combination of factors was involved in cancellation of the crucial annual fundraising event for the Human Society and Wagner Animal Shelter, Aders said.
Among those were delays in marketing this year’s event leading to a reduction in the number of boats entered; and a change in the application period for a Petco Foundation Grant that has been a key financial contribution to past events.
Graciously interrupting preparation of a press release on the cancellation, Aders explained the sequence of events to Royal Examiner by phone on Thursday, July 12.
“We were late in the game marketing it – with a new director on board we got behind on disseminating information and some became skeptical of it occurring and there were not enough boat sponsors by the July 11 deadline,” she said.
She also noted with the lag time in promoting the event boat sponsors were set back in their own fundraising efforts. In the past the event has seen eight boats supplied by the Canadian company 22 Dragons with a minimum sponsorship of $2,000 per Waggin for Dragons boat. However, under normal circumstances sponsors often raise far above that minimum requirement. The event has raised as much as $40,000 to $50,000 for shelter operations in past years.
And due to the Petco Foundation grant of about $17,000 in those years, generally all of that sponsor-raised money has gone directly to shelter operations and Humane Society efforts on behalf of the community’s abandoned and unwanted animals.
As for the Petco Foundation application period, Aders said in the past it had been in the spring, allowing acknowledgment of recipients prior to the mid-summer event. However, this year the application process was moved into summer, with an opening date of August 1 and a closing date of September 30.
“We initially thought, well since we’ve gotten it before we’ll just go ahead on the assumption it will come through; but then with the reduced number of sponsored boats we decided to be safe and apply the money to next year’s event if we do get the grant this year,” Aders concluded of this lost fundraising opportunity.
With added fundraising revenues and an increase in the annual contribution from the county board of supervisors the humane society and its shelter had actually gotten into the black operationally in the last year or so.
The Waggin for Dragons cancellation could be a devastating blow to maintaining that positive financial situation in the coming fiscal year. So, making it to the Wagner Shelter at 1245 Progress Drive in the Happy Creek Technology Park off Shenandoah Shores Road this Friday and Saturday for a scheduled “Yard Sale” shelter fundraiser will be helpful.