Why event organizers love petting zoos

Honey Hill Farm Mobile Petting Zoo and Pony Rides

February 12, 2016

Why event organizers love petting zoos

Honey Hill Farm News & Blog • By Megan Powell-Larkin, Staff Writer

Honey Hill Farm has been in the event service industry for a long time so we know a few things about the unique challenges our customers (event organizers) face.

But to help us better understand their needs, we recently spent time talking to some of these busy customers. We spoke to event planners for churches, corporations and municipalities. It turns out they have a lot more in common than just a high stress job and a love of cute animals. 

In response to questions about the challenges they face when planning their events, nearly all event organizers cited budgetary constraints.

“Budgeting is always the biggest challenge,” said Kim Wolking, Community Planner for the City of Erlanger.  “As a government agency we have to be careful about how we spend our residents money, while providing them with programs that enhance the quality of life in the community.  It’s usually a fine line.”

Another event coordinator stated that because her organization plans a very large event, people often think that they have an unlimited budget. While the event is not intended to make money, it can’t sustain a huge loss either, so money is always an issue.

For event organizers,  the success of an entire year’s worth of work is often determined by the success of a few annual events. So while budget was the most popular answer,  some stated that the hardest part was planning the attractions. This is especially true for finding activities that will appeal to everyone in the family.

“The biggest challenge of planning an event is finding attractions that will appeal to a diverse group of people and work for outdoor events,” said Sharon Casselman, Assistant Director of Springdale Parks and Recreation.

Sharon helps organize the Springdale, OH ‘ComeUnity Bash,’ an annual event that celebrates the community with live music, rock climbing walls, magic shows and acrobatics provided by Cincinnati Circus, and of course, a petting zoo and pony rides provided by Honey Hill Farm.

Springdale began featuring animals a couple of years ago. When asked why she loved the petting zoo so much, Casselman said, “The animals have had a big impact on our event.  Most Springdale residents, especially children, have never been up close to a kangaroo, let alone pet one! All the feedback we have received has been very positive.”

Misty Yates, of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, had a lot to say about the mass appeal of the petting zoo. SE Christian’s “FamilyPalooza” is Honey Hill Farm’s largest one day event. Having started out relatively small, the mega-church now features three pony carousels, side by side, and a sixty animal petting zoo, including exotic animals like the camel and kangaroo. In spite of the impressive spread, the lines for the pony rides are always long.

“I think animals are just a huge draw for anybody.  Even kids who might get overwhelmed by the hugeness of an event (all the sights, sounds, people) connect quickly with the animals.  I know of a couple families who literally only come to see the petting zoo and pony rides.  Or families who have a little one so upset over at inflatables will go over to the petting zoo and the kids calm down.  Animals are so great that way.”

Southeast Christian has three other locations in the greater Louisville area, all of which feature Honey Hill Farm’s animals for their own “Paloozas,” on the same day.

Petting zoos may be the only activity that everyone from the toddlers to the teenagers, and even the grandparents, can enjoy together. Still, if you’re surprised at the popularity of such an old fashioned activity in a sea of balloon bounces and mobile arcades, you’re not alone. Events that feature petting zoos are relatively rare, because many event organizers simply don’t consider them.

This works to the advantage of event organizers like Sharon Casselman, who ended with, “my favorite thing about the petting zoo is the uniqueness. I choose it because it’s unique.”

Honey Hill Farm provides high quality petting zoos and pony rides to events of all sizes. We have worked with individuals, churches, schools, businesses, and municipalities for over 15 years. You can visit some our animals at King Island and Cedar Point, or book your next event in Kentucky or Ohio by visiting www.honeyhillfarm.net/get-prices.