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The Charm and Charity of GOLDIE PALOOZA™


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The Goldie Palooza™ story started on Monday, October 12, 2015, when a golden ball of fur with a curled “rat” tail and the sweetest snout came into the life of a couple in the South Bay. This was the first dog for this couple, who did not have children. They promised him to give him the best life possible, full of love and respect. Because “mom” was French, he was given a French name—Hugo for the author Victor Hugo, and the middle name Maxwell to honor a very special rescue pup who belonged to the couple’s French Canadian best friends.

What they didn’t know was that by bringing this golden retriever puppy into their home—which changed their quiet lives completely—a series of circumstances would lead to the birth of an entire community. A community that came together to start the most amazing golden retriever event ever seen in Southern California: Goldie Palooza™.


It started on Instagram in early 2016, with an account created just for Hugo. Other golden retriever owners on Instagram reached out, and soon the family was meeting other local golden retriever families at a nearby park. One day, Hugo was invited to a golden retriever party at a boarding facility. The sight of so many golden retrievers in one location—about 60 of them—created great excitement and a real sense of solidarity. Attendees began to talk about starting a golden retriever group in Southern California. Hugo and his mom volunteered to start the group, named SoCal Golden Retriever Buddies. After spending hours and weeks looking for local golden retriever accounts on Instagram to grow the group, the first-ever “Meet-Up” took place on Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach on September 11, 2016. Approximately 20 golden retriever owners from LA County, Orange County, and other counties met that day. The ensuing monthly meet-ups consisted of playtime at the beach, outdoor activities like pack walks and hiking our local mountains, pup birthday parties, and evening park playdates. The group grew consistently, month after month, becoming a reputable and safe community, one of the biggest active golden retriever communities in the world.

When the first anniversary of SoCal Golden Retriever Buddies approached, Hugo and his mom came up with the idea of gathering the most golden retrievers possible on a field to take a picture. They started to contact the Instagram followers and discuss how and where the gathering should take place. One family suggested that, instead of gathering solely for the photo, the group host a golden retriever “festival.” Hugo’s mom knew that organizing monthly activities was quite different than putting together a festival—the idea was intimidating. But, with much convincing and many promises of help from group members, Hugo’s mom accepted the challenge.


So, what began as a simple group picture to mark the first-year anniversary of the beloved SoCal Golden Retriever Buddies community became not only a day-long golden retriever festival but also a fundraiser for local golden retriever rescues. And the event was run exclusively by volunteers, just as it is today. Hugo’s mom was joined by passionate and talented women of the community to organize the first-ever Goldie Palooza™. It took place at Huntington Beach Central Park on Sunday, October 8, 2017, and drew more than 350 golden retrievers. That inaugural Goldie Palooza™ broke the attendance record previously held by the famous gathering that takes place every five years at Guisachan in the Scottish Highlands, where the breed was founded in 1868 by Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth.


Goldie Palooza™ 2017 volunteers will never forget the moment when all the attendees gathered in the field to immortalize this precious moment together. Goldens and their “parents” kept coming and coming, and the sight of all those happy golden retrievers was absolutely unbelievable. From about 30 dogs at monthly meet-ups to over 350 at that first festival, it was truly astonishing. The event became the talk of the town—KTLA news crews were there, as well as reporters from local newspapers. What a heart-warming first-year anniversary group picture for SoCal Golden Retriever Buddies it turned out to be!

Goldie Palooza™ was held again in 2018 at the same location, almost doubling the number of attendees and raising even more funds for golden retriever rescues. Coverage of the event was widespread, with stories published in People magazine and even The Times newspaper out of London.


Organizing the event did not come without challenges. The original volunteers who organized the renowned festival decided to take a break in 2019 to consider the future of the event. A year passed, with many long discussions conducted with a non-profit organization, Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue. The rescue agreed to accept the challenge and took the Goldie Palooza™ annual event under their umbrella.

Just as a new date and location in Orange County was appointed for the 2020 event, the pandemic struck. The Goldie Palooza™ 2020 organization, daunted but determined, remained patient for two long years. Finally, Goldie Palooza™ resumed in 2022 at Lakeview Park in Silverado, California, and was held once again in 2023 at the same park. Both years, our own attendance records were broken—from the beginning, more and more goldens and their families flock to the even every year. Our 2023 count was 938, but even this astonishing number is not the unofficial world record. That record is held by our buddies in Australia who hosted 1,278 goldens at their annual Gold Rush event last fall.

Besides drawing record numbers of golden retrievers from different states to Southern California for a joyful day with us, our biggest accomplishment is the fundraising our group has accomplished since 2017. Goldie Palooza™, run 100% by volunteers since day one, has raised and donated more than $100k to various non-profit organizations.


Goldie Palooza™ 2024, 5th edition, takes place April 7 in Orange County (a central location for families coming from all over California) at Oak Canyon Park, on 17 acres of exclusive recreational commons nestled in the historic Santa Ana Mountains. Families will be coming from as far as the East Coast, with some even flying from Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. Some of our exceptional guests will be Pet Loss Psychologist Dr. Katie Lawlor, Pup Stars Chase and Chester, and the LA Galaxy Star Squad. Our Golden Village will be the biggest to date, with almost 90 exhibitors (sponsors, vendors, dog sports, dog testing, food trucks, DJ, training, contests, and courses). It will be a mix of local and out-of-state exhibits, with the best of the best selected for our attendees. Many activities will be offered for golden retrievers, their buddies and families—many favorites will be returning, along with new activities being introduced this year.

Volunteers of Goldie Palooza™ will tell you, “It’s the best day!” “It’s impossible to choose just one best thing.” And, “It’s Disneyland for goldens and families!”

We take great pride in the accomplishments made since October 2017, and we know it takes a village to reach a goal. Goldie Palooza™ could not happen without the kindness, tireless efforts, and sacrifices of the volunteers who made this festival what it is today. We cannot thank them enough. Today, there is not a “Goldie Palooza™ Committee” but a “Goldie Palooza™ Community!”

Our slogan in 2017 was, “Let’s paint Huntington Beach golden!” The sentiment remains the same, but since the festival is renowned worldwide, we like the sound of “Let’s paint the world golden!”

Hugo Maxwell's Mom
Hugo Maxwell's Mom
Visit Goldie Palooza for information about the event and future events https://goldiepalooza.com/


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