Bark & Wine Gala Benefits Noah’s Ark

Animal and wine lovers can mark April 6 on their calendars. That’s the day Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, 111 N. First St. in Rockford, holds its 15th Annual Bark & Wine Gala at the Tebala Event Center, 7910 Newburg Road in Rockford.

“Mary’s Market will be doing the food this year,” says Marcia Brice, office manager and fundraising coordinator for Noah’s Ark. “There will be a grazing area for appetizers, and Nothing Bundt Cakes will be doling out desserts again this year.”

The gala is the largest fundraising event of the year for Noah’s Ark, Rockford’s first no-kill animal shelter. The sanctuary opened its doors almost 50 years ago in April 1978.

“The proceeds from the gala go to all of the animals we take care of,” says Brice. “We shelter them, feed them and vet them until they can find a forever home.”

The organization also operates an animal hospital at 321 N. Fourth St., where rescue animals are treated for illnesses, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering. Since opening, Noah’s Ark has rescued more than 30,000 animals. Currently, there are about 130 dogs and cats under its care.

“At the shelter, we take in either stray, abandoned or unwanted animals,” Brice says. “They stay here until they are adopted.”

In addition to sheltering animals, Noah’s Ark has partnered with Winnebago County Animal Services to ensure pets from low-income homes can be vaccinated and microchipped. There’s also a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats.

“That’s a big one,” says Brice. “We have so many feral cats in the area.”

The 12-member staff at Noah’s Ark is bolstered by a large volunteer base and a number of animal lovers who have opened their homes to rescues through the group’s foster program.

“When we get litters of puppies or animals that need to be socialized, we foster them,” says Brice. “You don’t want a mother and pups to deal with too much stress.”

All of these programs are made possible through public support for Noah’s Ark and the Bark & Wine Gala, which has grown increasingly popular as the years have gone on.

“Last year we had a little over 250 people,” says Brice. “We’d always love more.”

In addition to the meal, the gala features quarter buckets and dollar buckets. There’s a $10 mystery prize up for grabs, gift card raffles, a booze toss ring game, and a silent auction with hundreds of baskets and prizes up for grabs.

“Camping World in Roscoe has donated a Blackstone grill with all of the accessories,” says Brice. “Paradise Casino sent us an overnight stay and a meal, and BMO Center donated four tickets to ‘Bluey’s Big Play.’”

Brice and her team are still accepting donations for the silent auction. Anyone who wishes to donate, be a sponsor or volunteer for the gala can call (815) 962-2767. Tickets are available in singles for $50 or couples for $90. A table of eight can be purchased for $350.

Brice is hoping to make this year a record-breaker.

“Last year we made almost $20,000,” says Brice. “My goal this year is to beat that.”