How Dog Mountain Is Funded. A Look at the Finances Behind Vermont’s Canine Paradise

Introduction

Dog Mountain is a unique 150-acre outdoor art park and recreation area located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It was founded in the early 1990s by renowned artist Stephen Huneck as a place for people and dogs to enjoy nature together.

Dog Mountain is located on Vermont Route 15 in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont, about 2 miles south of St. Johnsbury. It overlooks the Connecticut River Valley and features several miles of hiking trails, an outdoor chapel, and galleries displaying Huneck’s folk art celebrating the relationship between humans and dogs.

Stephen Huneck purchased the land for Dog Mountain in the early 1990s to create a dog-friendly destination after recovering from a serious illness. He wanted to build a place to celebrate the joy he found in his dogs and help others experience the healing power of the human-dog bond. The mountain officially opened to the public in 2000 and has become a popular tourist attraction in Vermont, welcoming over 25,000 visitors annually.

Founding and Initial Funding

Dog Mountain began as the home and studio of Vermont folk artists Stephen Huneck and Gwen Huneck, and the site includes an art gallery featuring Stephen’s art (Wikipedia). Artist Stephen Huneck founded Dog Mountain in the 1990s as a place for dogs and dog lovers, building a chapel and numerous dog sculptures across 150 acres of mountain property (Wikipedia). Dog Mountain was originally funded through the sale of Stephen Huneck’s art, primarily his whimsical prints and sculptures of dogs.

dog mountain relies on the support of its community

Fundraising Events

Dog Mountain hosts several popular annual fundraising events to support its operations. The most well-known is the Summer Concert Series and Dog Party held every June (Dog Mountain, 2023). This event brings together hundreds of dogs and their owners for a day of live music, contests, food, and fun. Many people dress up their dogs in creative costumes and enter them in the costume contest. There is also a kissing booth where dogs can give kisses for $1 donations. A raffle and silent auction help raise additional funds. Proceeds from the Summer Concert Series help provide care for the resident dogs at Dog Mountain and maintain the grounds.

Another key fundraising event is the Annual Dog Wedding held in September (Dog Mountain, 2023). Dog couples tie the knot in an official ceremony surrounded by canine guests. Owners often have their dogs wear formal wedding attire and pose for professional photos. The $25 fee per dog helps support Dog Mountain’s operating costs.

Throughout the year, Dog Mountain hosts breed-specific dog meetups and festivals as well (Dog Mountain, 2023). For example, corgi playdates, greyhound gatherings, and beagle meetups allow owners to socialize their dogs. These events have participation fees and vendor booths to raise funds. Educational seminars are also held on topics like dog nutrition, training, and healthcare.

Membership and Admission Fees

Dog Mountain offers different membership levels that help fund the nonprofit organization and maintenance of the hiking trails and dog-friendly facilities. People can join the “Pack Member” program for $15 per month, which provides various benefits like discounts on workshops and retreats (Dog Mountain Membership).

admission fees help fund trails and facilities
There are also daily admission fees to access the Dog Mountain trail system. The trailhead charges a standard $5 per vehicle day use fee. Valid Northwest Forest Passes and other federal recreation passes are accepted as well (USDA Forest Service). Annual trail permits can also be purchased through Recreation.gov for $30 per person (Dog Mountain Trail Permits). These fees help fund maintenance, improvements, and operations of the trails.

Dog Mountain Nonprofit

After Stephen Huneck’s death in 2010, his wife Gwen started the nonprofit Friends of Dog Mountain (FODM) in 2015 (https://www.dogmt.com/About-Friends-of-Dog-Mountain.html). The nonprofit’s mission is to preserve and promote Huneck’s artwork and vision for Dog Mountain.

FODM established the Stephen Huneck Art Foundation to preserve, protect and promote Huneck’s artwork. The foundation manages Huneck’s artwork collection and archives, and facilitates loans to museums/galleries for exhibitions. FODM also hosts events, activities and educational programs to engage visitors and highlight Huneck’s artistic legacy.

Key activities of the nonprofit include maintaining Dog Mountain as a free public space, operating the Dog Chapel, conserving Huneck’s art collection, and funding new art installations like the Heart Garden. Donations to FODM help ensure Huneck’s unique vision continues to inspire future generations (https://www.dogmt.com/Ways-to-Give.html).

Donations

Donations are a critical source of funding for Dog Mountain. People can make one-time or recurring donations through the Donate page on the Dog Mountain website. Donors can choose to make a donation in honor or memory of a pet or person. Corporate sponsorships are another significant source of donations. Companies can sponsor Dog Mountain events and programs or make direct donations.

According to the Ways to Give page, Dog Mountain has a matching gift program where an initial $2,500 donation is matched for a total of $5,000 in donations. The nonprofit Friends of Dog Mountain also raises donations, and all contributions are tax deductible.

Gift Shop Revenue

The Dog Mountain gift shop provides an important revenue stream for the nonprofit. The shop sells a variety of products for dogs and dog lovers, generating funds to support the organization’s mission. Some top-selling items include:

Books and toys: The gift shop stocks books and toys for dogs of all ages and sizes. Popular books feature Dog Mountain founder Stephen Huneck’s uplifting dog-themed art, stories, and wisdom. Toys range from plush squeakers to tug ropes.

Art and home decor: Dog Mountain art prints, paintings, and sculptures are available, showcasing Huneck’s heartwarming dog art. Home decor like welcome mats, candles, and kitchenware with dog designs also stock the shelves.

Apparel and accessories: The shop carries t-shirts, hats, mugs, and other accessories decorated with Huneck’s dog images for humans and canines. Dog treats, leashes, and travel gear are also popular.

Holiday gifts: Ornaments, stockings, advent calendars and other seasonal items with dog motifs are gift shop staples. Customers can find meaningful keepsakes for dog lovers here.

Purchases support Dog Mountain’s operational costs and mission of celebrating dogs. The wide-ranging inventory ensures dog lovers can find treasured mementos of their bond with canines.

Property Business Lease

business leases provide additional revenue
Dog Mountain leases out parts of their property to local businesses which provides an additional source of revenue to fund operations. The Dog Mountain Cafe and overnight dog boarding facilities are two notable businesses that lease facilities on the Dog Mountain property.

The Dog Mountain Cafe moved into a leased space on the property in 2015. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch daily, providing food for visitors as well as serving as a gathering place for those who come to walk the trails with their dogs (Sources: Dog Mountain Properties, Mountain Dog Properties).

Additionally, Dog Mountain leases out kennel facilities for overnight dog boarding. Offering boarding enables visitors traveling with dogs to leave their pets overnight if they wish to stay at nearby lodging that does not permit dogs. The kennel facilities provide another revenue stream to support Dog Mountain operations (Source: Mountain Dog Products).

Volunteers

Dog Mountain relies heavily on volunteers to help run operations and maintain the 150-acre property. There are many ways for volunteers to get involved throughout the year (https://www.dogmt.com/Volunteer.html). The nonprofit’s website has a volunteer sign-up form where people can indicate their availability and interests. Tasks may include gardening, landscaping, cleaning kennels, administrative work, event setup, leading tours, and more.

volunteers help operate dog mountain

One of the biggest volunteer events is the annual Labor of Love day held each May. In 2023, it will take place on May 13th (https://www.dogmt.com/RSVP.html). This massive effort brings together volunteers to prepare Dog Mountain for the summer season. Jobs involve cleaning, painting, gardening, building maintenance, and improving the dog park. It provides a fun and social way to pitch in. Dog Mountain provides food, entertainment, and an appreciation party for all volunteers.

Volunteers are crucial for putting on Dog Mountain’s many public events, such as summer concerts and festivals (https://www.dogmt.com/Events.html). Tasks include setting up stages, chairs, and booths; managing parking, admissions, and vendors; assisting artists and musicians; and helping with cleanup. Volunteers get free admission to enjoy the events when not working. The nonprofit also relies on administrative volunteers year-round to help in the gift shop and front office.

Conclusion

In summary, Dog Mountain receives funding from a variety of sources to support its unique dog-friendly environment and community. The initial funding from Stephen Huneck’s art allowed Dog Mountain to get started back in the 1990s. Today, membership fees, admission tickets, fundraising events, the gift shop, business leases, donations and volunteers help keep Dog Mountain running year after year.

Ultimately, the strong sense of community surrounding Dog Mountain is key to its continued success. Dog lovers from near and far contribute their time, money and support to help sustain this special mountain retreat for people and dogs alike. It’s clear that Dog Mountain holds a special place in many hearts. With ongoing community dedication, Dog Mountain will continue providing a peaceful, dog-friendly oasis for years to come.

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