Penticton has a new holiday-themed market but it’s unlike anything that’s ever come before it.
Animals are the star of the show at Penticton’s inaugural pet-friendly market, an event that features nearly 20 vendors, Santa Claus, silent auctions and Christmas food drives all weekend long.
The group behind the event, Pet-Friendly Penticton, was formed in April by Kona Sankey with the mission of encouraging and promoting pet-friendly locations, activities and causes across the city.
Since then, Sankey has created an online community via Facebook that serves as a hub for pet-focused education and advocacy.
The inaugural pet-friendly holiday market — an event that runs on both Saturday and Sunday at the Orchard House — wasn’t just a place for people to find the perfect gift for their furry friends, though. It was also an opportunity to help raise money and collect non-perishable food donations for the community’s most vulnerable.
Sankey partnered with Fill the Food Gap Penticton prior to this weekend’s festivities, an organization that’s known to always include pets in its community giveback efforts.
Vendors at Orchard House this weekend are offering pet-centric gifts, art, supplies and photo opportunities with Santa Claus.
“One of the big things I wanted to include was to have the pets come out for the day when they’re comfortable and to enjoy the festivities as much as their people do,” Sankey said. “Being able to have photo opportunities with your pets is something you can’t always do, so we’re very grateful for Santa to be here.”
Pets were invited to take part in festivities and walk through the market with their owners. Though dogs, cats and birds were in the spotlight on Saturday, a goat named Bugatti is expected to make an appearance Sunday afternoon, according to a local couple.
“I’m glowing right now…this is just so exciting that it all came together,” Sankey said. “Every time I turn around there’s another set of puppy eyes looking at me and that just makes me so happy.”
Admission to the market is by donation, with Sankey adding that expansion plans for next year’s event are already in the works.
Local dog trainers, pet photographers, BC SPCA, ALERT and others are among those in attendance.
Sunday’s festivities run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.