WMNF 88.5 FM is known for hosting outside-the-box concerts. But this weekend, the station will put on a musical event that's unusual even for itself.
Sunday afternoon, WMNF will host its first Talking Animals Festival at Lowry Park Band Shell. The festival was inspired by the station's Talking Animals, a show highlighting animal issues and animal-themed songs.
For WMNF, the festival is unique on two fronts: First, the station has never held an event combining so many diverse elements: live music, pet adoption, animal art, food and more.
Second, admission is free. For most WMNF-sponsored events, the station charges an entry fee. To cover expenses, the not-for-profit station requested a temporary permit to sell beer as a fundraiser — something nonprofits in Florida may do no more than three times a year. The station also hopes to make money selling nonalcoholic drinks, raffle tickets and T-shirts.
"Pretty much all of our events are ticket-driven events, and we make our money off of tickets," said Randy Wynne, the station's program director. "It's a little bit of experiment to find out if that kind of event is a model for us that could work for other WMNF events."
The festival was the brainchild of Duncan Strauss, who drives from Palm Beach County to Tampa in order to host the Talking Animals radio show and a rock program, Sonic Detour. Talking Animals airs twice a month and includes interviews with nationally known animal activists, celebrities like Chrissie Hynde, Moby and Joan Jett. Strauss sees Sunday's festival as a chance to highlight the local animal welfare community.
"Of course it's a cliche to say I want to give something back to the community," said Strauss, 52.
The family-friendly event will feature pet adoptions by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and other groups, agility demonstrations by the Dog Training Club of Tampa, animal-themed art exhibits, outreach tables and vendors selling pet products.
Dogs on leashes are welcome. The Animal Coalition of Tampa and veterinarian Dr. Jeanne Hart will provide $10 microchipping for up to 50 pets.
"$10 is really, really cool," Strauss said. "It normally costs $50 to $60 and up."
If all goes well, Strauss will consider making the Talking Animals Festival an annual event. Of course that, like the radio station itself, will depend on an army of volunteers.