Come Sunday afternoon, millions of Americans will be watching two teams go head to head in an epic fight for eternal glory. While some may have their eyes glued to the screen as the Carolina Panthers battle the Denver Broncos in San Francisco, many animal lovers will be checking out the legendary match-up known as the Puppy Bowl.
Last year, more than 10 million viewers tuned in to Animal Planet to watch adorable, adoptable pets play, cuddle and basically make America’s collective heart explode in Puppy Bowl XI. This year, Western North Carolina will have its own local version of the national event: Hendersonville’s Sanctuary Brewing Co. will host a real-life Puppy Bowl starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“Blue Ridge Humane Society is going to bring in enough puppies to basically recreate the Puppy Bowl,” says Sanctuary’s bar manager and event organizer Barbara Dunkin. “It’ll be an adoption event as well,” she says. So customers can come watch puppies play, cuddle them and even bring one home.
Dunkin aims for Sanctuary’s Puppy Bowl set to be much like the one created by Animal Planet. “The plan is to set up a little field in a big pen and then we’ll put all the puppies in there and some toys,” says Dunkin, who will serve as the referee with help from her 3-year-old daughter. Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl will also be playing on a television in the taproom, so guests can compare player performance: WNC canines versus the national teams.
And don’t worry sports fans — it’s not puppies OR football. It’s puppies AND football. Sanctuary will also be screening Super Bowl 50 for the crowd. True to the passions of owners Joe Dinan and Lisa McDonald, the brewery is all about craft beer, advocating for animals and cheering wildly every time the camera catches Cam Newton.
Sanctuary Brewing opens at noon on Sunday, Feb. 7, and the Puppy Bowl starts at 2 p.m. The adoption event runs from 2-4 p.m. Admission is free, but remember to bring money for an adoption fee, in case you fall in love with a player.