With its first Waterfall Festival, Garden Ponds & Aquariums Unlimited promotes outdoor relaxation and contributes to animal welfare.
By Ian Jayne
There’s nothing more quintessentially Oklahoman than spending time in the outdoors — accompanied by one’s pet, of course.
This year’s first-ever Waterfall Festival by Garden Ponds & Aquariums Unlimited will provide Oklahomans with a wide array of options for all of their backyard needs while also supporting a good cause, with donations and a percentage of proceeds benefiting Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
Located at 310 SW First St. in Moore, Waterfall Festival will be open to the public 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 12 and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 13. Entry to the festival is free, and visitors will be able to spin a discount wheel that will determine their purchasing discount for the day.
There will be something for everyone at Waterfall Festival: outdoor products from Garden Ponds & Aquariums unlimited and other vendors, fish races for kids and booths from wineries and fine cigars from Tobacco Exchange for adults.
Waterfall Festival grew out of Garden Ponds & Aquarium Unlimited’s annual customer appreciation days, said Lauri Lucas, who has co-owned the business with her husband for about 20 years. Previous customer appreciation days included sales and the ever-popular fish races, but this year, Lucas decided to expand the idea.
“This year, I just decided to change it completely,” Lucas said. “We called it the Waterfall Festival because that’s really what it was all along; it just took on a different name. Our goal is to inspire new people to enter the hobby and let people see how they can have waterfalls in their own backyard.”
The event is luau-themed, and attendees will receive a Hawaiian lei upon arrival; on Saturday, after dark, lighted pond displays and tiki torches will add ambiance. There will be live music both days, including guitarist Edgar Cruz and other local performers.
Lucas’ own experiences with pets shaped the idea to benefit Central Oklahoma Humane Society, and Lucas said she has always been drawn to organizations that help animals in need.
“I’m not a grandparent; I have grand-dogs,” Lucas said. “My children just have dogs at this stage in their lives. Pets are really important to us. A lot of our customers bring in pets, so we thought, ‘Let’s do a fundraiser for the Humane Society, because we had always heard about them, and they do really good things.’”
Several components of the festival will raise money for Humane Society, including a percentage of all retail sales and a charity raffle featuring three levels of prizes: a $900 Aquascape Waterfall Kit, two large statuary vases worth $300 from Statuary World and a Pond Max 3 LED Light kit worth $150. Tickets for the raffle are $20 apiece, and Lucas hopes to sell 200, raising around $4,000 for Humane Society.
The fish races are pay-to-play, Lucas said, and will also benefit the Humane Society.
“We have really small Japanese koi, and we actually have a raceway,” Lucas said. “It’s a tabletop raceway, and so we put a fish in each starting gate. Then we raise the starting gate and everyone yells and cheers.”
The winner gets to keep the fastest fish.
Lucas said that Garden Ponds & Aquariums Unlimited will also be donating gift certificates, T-shirts, pond plants and statuary. Local businesses will be donating items to mystery boxes, as well, and there will be an opportunity to play charity games like Plinko. Attendees will also have the option to write donation checks directly.
“We know that when we send the donations that we raise to the Humane Society, they’re going to be utilized in a good way,” Lucas said.
The different elements of the Waterfall Festival all converge at the point of outdoor relaxation for people and their pets.
“Everybody wants a waterfall; they just don’t know it yet,” Lucas said. “Anyone who has ever seen a koi pond with professional waterfalls, the minute that they do, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! I never knew that I could have this in my yard.’”
Lucas said that many are often surprised at the price point for waterfalls or ponds — generally around $3,500, which is comparable to many hot tubs. According to Lucas, many customers go to Garden Ponds & Aquariums Unlimited looking for ways to make their yard spaces more relaxing so that they are able to de-stress at the end of long days.
“They go out onto the patios, they listen to the soothing sound of the waterfall, they watch the fish swim. It’s just something that is truly relaxing and a little bit of escape for them,” Lucas said.
In addition to serving as aesthetically pleasing focal points for a backyard, Lucas pointed out the functional elements of ponds and waterfalls and their thematic connection to pets. Lucas said that waterfalls can provide a constant supply of filtered water to dogs who are outside and can also serve as a splash pad for animals that want to cool off.
For Lucas, Waterfall Festival offers a way to improve backyard spaces and promote relaxation while also supporting the Humane Society.
“I think if Oklahoma City as a whole can realize that these are things that they can have that enhance our lifestyle and enhance property value, if it’s done right, it will be of interest to a lot of people.”