Elephant Grape Stomp History
Scroll down for event details.
The first Elephant Grape Stomp was held in 2004 to celebrate the arrival of five elephants: 71, Mara, Minnie, Rebecca and Annie, to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) new sanctuary, ARK 2000.
PAWS co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby learned about the fondness all elephants display for “everything grape” when 71 was a sickly little baby with no appetite for food. Pat was voraciously reading any book she could find on wild elephants, when she found a story about a group of elephants in Africa who discovered a tree with an abundance of overripe, fermented fruit. The entire herd gathered to enjoy these delicious treats and their celebration eventually developed into a riotous party of drunken elephants throwing fruit as they slid around the ground, trumpeting and squealing, smashing through the orchard, delighted with the chaos they were creating.
This story prompted Pat to offer a variety of fruits to 71 who occasionally ate most of them in small quantities, but it was always the grapes that were always devoured instantly. When local Calaveras vineyards pruned their vines and donated them to the animals, they became a special favorite of the baby elephant
After the first five elephants arrived at ARK 2000, many of PAWS’ neighbors brought fruit to the elephants; the vineyards drove truckloads of grape vine clippings, and the girls ate them like candy. Then Ed and Pat also learned of the local Calaveras County Grape Stomp which occurs each year in October, just after harvest, and thought they could take the elephants’ love of grapes and turn it into a great fundraising opportunity.
Elephant Grape Stomp Event Details
This is one of those rare events when PAWS opens their grounds for you to come visit these magnificent animals, up close and personal. The event is highly popular, with over 500 attending in 2016. Tickets area available in advance by reservation only. Wine tasting is part of the fun, making the event open to adults only, ages 21 and up. Here’s the scoop
- The elephants don’t actually stomp grapes, but you get to enjoy the fruits of the vine with more than two dozen award-winning Gold Country wineries represented.
- There’s also Tuscan cuisine catered by Il Fornaio who have been sponsoring PAWS events since 1995. If you’ve never been to one of their gourmet Italian restaurants, you’re really missing out.
- A shuttle service will take you to visit the elephants, bears, leopard and tigers of ARK 2000 – there will be lots of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. Need mobility assistance? Let the ticket taker at the entrance know so they can make special arrangements.
- You can take all the photos and video you want. But no drones.
- As part of the fundraising, there’s a Ms./Mr. TUSKany Pageant – you get to vote for your favorite elephant at $5 per vote. Votes take place at the event and ahead of time online. So, if you can’t attend this year, you can still vote online.
- There’s also a silent auction and a PAWS gift shop – all proceeds of course, as with everything else in this event, go to support the important work of PAWS. And of course, you don’t have to wait for an event to donate. Go to their support page to find out how you can help.