Wheels for Wags

Greg Willey, right, executive director of Friendship Animal Protective League of Lorain County, shares rescue dog Franklin with Tom Simon, one of last year’s Wheels for Wags car show winners. This year’s event is Aug. 18 at Avon United Methodist Church.

AVON — Classic cars, hot rods and muscle cars will take over the grounds of Avon United Methodist Church on Detroit Road from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, for the seventh annual Wheels for Wags car show benefiting Friendship Animal Protective League of Lorain County. The rain date is Aug. 25.

The fundraiser is the brainchild of Joyce Castrigano, who is a church member and a shelter volunteer. She and her husband, Joe, own JC Auto Body & Collision in North Ridgeville, and have attended many car shows over the years to show off Joe’s 1970s Buick muscle cars. Their business is the event’s primary sponsor.

“I noticed that a lot of the car shows were raising funds for a cause,” Castrigano said. “Then when I was at church one day and we walked out, I said, ’This would be a great place to have a car show.’ ”

Castrigano found out she wasn’t the only one who thought so. She approached then-Pastor Liz Krall about the idea and found out the church hosted car shows on its grounds in the ‘90s. An avid car-show fan, Krall gave Castrigano the green light.

Six years later, Wheels for Wags draws more than 200 car-show entries, about 500 spectators and many four-legged guests. The dog-friendly event has something for everyone, including live music by Frank LaManna Presents, door prizes, raffle baskets, contests, refreshments, a bake sale and adoptable dogs.

“We tried to make it different,” Castrigano said. “People bring their dogs, we have dog activities and we have a pet blessing with our pastor, Micah Holland. One of our new games is musical hoops for dogs, like musical chairs.”

Admission is free for spectators, but attendees are encouraged to bring a pet food item or bag of cat litter. Car show entries are $10 per vehicle, and the first 200 will receive a dash plaque. Judges will award 16 trophies in several different categories.

Besides cars, Castrigano said the event is known for its raffle baskets, many with values of $75 and up, all donated by local businesses. These baskets, along with the car show entries and other mini fundraisers, helped Castrigano and her team raise about $10,000 last year. She’s hoping to beat that this year.

That money is especially important this year since Friendship APL recently started caring for 21 cane corso dogs that were seized from a Lorain apartment late last month. The dogs are in Friendship APL’s custody during the investigation.

“This event is a great way to show your support for what we do at Friendship APL,” executive director Greg Willey said. “By spending a day enjoying all the classic cars, the amazing people and all the great food and prizes we will have available, you will help us care for the thousands of furry friends for which we are responsible. We couldn't provide that care without the support Joyce and her team provide through this really fun event.”

Friendship APL, based in Elyria, is the largest animal shelter in Lorain County. It receives no government funding, and saved more than 4,000 animals last year.

For more information about the car show or to register your vehicle, call 440-315-2938. To find out more about Friendship APL, visit friendshipapl.org.

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