People have all sorts of guidelines they use in choosing where to spend their entertainment dollars.
Let us humbly offer two more.
First: Any event that includes dogs leaping off piers into a body of water probably is worth checking out.
Second: Any event that offers food, wine, live music, entertainment, carnival rides and celebrity appearances and that also raises money for kids is definitely, absolutely worth checking out.
Easily meeting both criteria — and at family-friendly prices to boot — is the fourth annual Nevada Wild Fest, which runs Friday through Sunday in the parking lot of the Rio.
Nevada Wild Fest is the signature yearly fundraiser of the Lili Claire Foundation, a Las Vegas nonprofit that provides clinical and support services to children with Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and other neurogenetic disorders.
The foundation’s services are offered to families at no cost, adds Keith Resnick, the organization’s founder and father of Lili Claire, its namesake, who died in infancy from complications related to Williams syndrome.
All net proceeds from this weekend’s Wild Fest will fund the foundation’s medical genetics clinics and social service programs, Resnick says.
In fact, he adds, the success of this weekend’s Wild Fest will determine how many families the foundation will be able to serve next year.
“We have a long waiting list of children who need to see us,” Resnick explains. “So the more money we raise at Wild Fest, the more children we can see and diagnose and put on a very healthy trajectory.
“It costs us approximately $8,000 a day to run clinics. It’s very expensive because children’s needs are very specialized, and we have a remarkable and well-respected team of doctors, nurses and social workers who work like a laser beam on each child.”
The Lili Claire Foundation’s mission is “to help any child born with any neurogenetic birth issue, free of charge and with no barrier to entry,” Resnick says. “We don’t even ask for insurance. We are fully self-funded, and this is our big push for 2014.”
The first two editions of Nevada Wild Fest were held at the Henderson Pavilion. But, Resnick says, “we outgrew that space, and Caesars Entertainment was so generous to come aboard and offer us the Rio parking lot.”
However, he adds, “this is not an ordinary parking-lot festival.”
Moon Valley Nurseries this year has donated more than 100 mature palm and ash trees to the festival while Little Baja has donated statues and benches, creating a “beautiful landscape,” Resnick says.
Wild Fest again this year will host a national DockDogs competition. Also on this year’s entertainment calendar is a national Iron Dog Best of the Best championship that will be filmed for future TV broadcast.
Other attractions will include a wine garden and a beer garden, a vodka martini bar and “tons of food trucks and food tents,” Resnick says. “The food this year will be outrageous.”
The festival’s stage will be the scene of live entertainment all day every day. Scheduled performers this year include Kalin and Myles (9 p.m. Friday) and Danielle Bradbery, winner of the fourth season of NBC’s “The Voice” (8 p.m. Saturday).
Bradbery, Resnick adds, is “currently on tour with Blake Shelton and she’s coming special for us.”
Also, Bella Thorne of the Disney Channel show “Shake It Up” is scheduled to do a meet-and-greet with fans at 4 p.m. Sunday, and actress/singer/photographer Shari Belafonte, a longtime supporter of the Lili Claire Foundation, is scheduled to host a VIP celebrity party at 8 p.m. Friday.
Guests again this year can ride more than 30 carnival rides. All-day unlimited-ride wristbands will be available at the door for $30.
General admission is $10 at the door, although advance tickets can be purchased online (www.NevadaWildFest) for $6, Resnick notes. A family pack of four admissions will cost $40 at the door or $20 online.
Wild Fest again this year is offering community partnership opportunities that give local schools and nonprofit organizations $5 out of every $10 ticket sold at the event.
“Last year, we gave over $10,000 to Clark County schools, and we hope to double that this year,” Resnick says.