Mardi Growl is one of our favorite traditions and impacts thousands of pets at Young-Williams Animal Center every year. We can’t wait to see the creative and fun ideas that everyone comes up with for our costume contests as we celebrate our shared love of pets. This year, we’re adding new ways to engage the whole family. Follow @YWACPets on social media to be the first to know about these exciting updates.

Mardi Growl supports Young-Williams Animal Center and the more than 10,000 pets cared for each year. As the official municipal shelter, Young-Williams Animal Center cares for every lost, stray, injured and vulnerable animal brought in by City of Knoxville and Knox County animal control officers regardless of the animal’s health, breed, behavior or circumstance. We are proud of our “no-kill” status, and our lifesaving programs require immense support and resources from our community.

Mardi Growl not only raises funds through parade registrations and sponsorship opportunities, but it also celebrates our pet-loving community and the businesses who make our work possible. If you love pets as much as we do, we hope to see you at our 16th Annual Mardi Growl.

Check back soon for registration, opening in January 2023!

Please follow Young-Williams Animal Center on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for the latest updates!


How do I sign up to walk in the parade?

All pets participating in the Mardi Growl parade must register and receive a walker number, regardless of whether or not they are competing in one of the costume contests. Human companions walk for free!

Pre-registration is $15 and will be available online in January. Pre-registration closes the Monday prior to the Saturday event. Day-of registration is $20 and will be held at the entrance gate to the parade staging area beginning at 9 a.m. Day-of registration closes promptly at 10:30 a.m. so the parade can begin at 11 a.m.

What contests I can enter?

Pets registered to walk in the parade may choose to compete in one of seven categories. Contest participation is not required to walk in the parade, and non-competing pets will lead the parade. Competing pets will be judged in the following categories:

Best Vol Spirit: Dog that shows the most UT Volunteer spirit.

Best Dawg Pack: Best group of dogs entered together, such as a rescue group, business or organization.

Pet/Owner Look-a-like: Coordinate your outfits and win.

Best Dog Couple: Two dogs that make a great pair.

Most Unique Mixed Breed (Mutt): Show us your adorable mutt and all that makes them unique.

Best Costume: Go wild and the best costume wins.

Best Naked Dog: Is your dog not a fashionista? That’s okay. Bring your low-maintenance pup as they are!

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 Wednesday and Thursday prior to the event from 3-6 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 more than 100 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 vaccines, including rabies, and microchips. Additional vaccines for dogs may be available and appointments are encouraged. More information will be posted in February 2023 or is available by calling 865-215-6677.