Mardi Growl is one of our favorite traditions and benefits the more than 11,000 pets that need Young-Williams Animal Center’s care annually. Show off your creativity and pet’s personality by competing in  costume contests, shop from local vendors and celebrate our shared love for pets.

As the official municipal shelter, Young-Williams Animal Center is a refuge for every lost, stray, injured and vulnerable animal in the City of Knoxville and Knox County. Our experienced staff care for all pets, regardless of their health, breed, behavior or circumstance. We are proud to be a “no-kill” shelter and appreciate the immense support and resources from our community that help us save lives daily.

Mardi Growl not only raises funds through parade registrations and sponsorship opportunities, it also celebrates our pet-loving community and the businesses who make our work possible. If you love pets as much as we do, don’t miss our 16th Annual Mardi Growl!



How do I sign up?

Each animal walking with their hooman must be registered. There is a $15 fee per animal. NEW THIS YEAR: Encourage your friends to sponsor you in the walk! Learn more about registration and walk sponsorships HERE.

What contests I can enter?
  • To compete, your pet must be pre-registered. Walking in the parade is not required.
  • In addition to the Best in Show and Overall Top Scoring pet, Young-Williams Animal Center will judge pets in five other categories:
    • Volunteer Spirit: Is your pet all Vol? Dress them in their best orange game day attire to win!
    • Celebrity Look-alike: Dress your pet like Dolly, Elvis or anyone you’d like to receive an autograph from. The pup-arazzi won’t be far away!
    • Leader of the Pack: Get your pack together to win this category! Rescue groups, businesses, organizations and other groups are welcome.
    • Two of a Kind: Are we seeing double? Join your pet and dress in matching outfits, or pair pups together for a coordinated couple.
    • Life of the Paw-ty: Dress your pet in a bow tie, tutu and all other things fancy for this category. May the best-dressed win!
  • Learn more about the T-shirt contest HERE.
How do I pick my contest category?
There’s no need to indicate which contest you plan on competing in prior to the event. The morning of the parade, arrive for check-in between 9:-10:30 a.m. Event staff and volunteers will assist in making sure you line up behind the appropriate contest category sign. Please make sure you remain behind your contest category sign and your pet’s walker number is visible until you are past the judging stand located in World’s Fair Park.
Where do I go for check-in the day of the event?
Parade check-in and day-of registration take place under the James White Parkway overpass on Willow Avenue in the Old City. The entrance to the parade staging area is located on the east end of Willow Avenue near the Patton Street intersection. Check-in and day-of registration is from 9-10:30 a.m. All registered pets and their human companions need to be inside the staging area by 10:30 a.m., so the parade can kick off at 11 a.m.
What’s included in parade registration?

Every pet registered to walk in the Mardi Growl parade will receive a walker number and swag bag. Those who pre-register will have the option to pick up the swag bag and walker number at Young-Williams Animal Center (3201 Division St.) on Tuesday, Feb. 28, and Wednesday, March 1, from 2-6 p.m. Walkers also can pick up swag bags at the check-in or day-of registration tents while supplies last. More information is included in the walker registration confirmation email.

Where can I watch the parade?
The parade route travels north on Central Street through the Old City before turning west on Jackson Avenue and continuing to World’s Fair Park Drive. The total parade route is approximately 1.2 miles and ends at our festival on the Performance Lawn at World’s Fair Park.
Where should I park?
Parking is free on Saturday at any of the city garages. If you are walking in the parade and don’t want to return the parade start location to retrieve your vehicle, we recommend being dropped off and then have the driver park the vehicle closer to the festival grounds.
What is the festival and what vendors are participating?

The Mardi Growl festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Performance Lawn at World’s Fair Park. This free, family friendly festival has giveaways, games, prizes, live music, food trucks and a whole lot of furry fun. Peruse dozens of pet-loving vendors while enjoying the festivities and waiting to find out who won the costume contests. Find the full list of vendors here.

Will you be offering vaccines and microchips?

Our Spay Shuttle and vet staff will be on-site to offer rabies vaccinations and microchipping. Appointments are encouraged. Book at https://clinichq.com/online/17cf4e6f-dd7a-4ef2-b7c0-702a0122c2c0.