We haven’t seen the last of Rob Canton’s goat herd.
On Feb. 6, Canton’s A+C Foundation held a public art auction to raise money for charities that fight, and raise awareness of, human trafficking. Central to the auction were 55 life-sized statues of goats, weighing 75 pounds each, painted, embellished and/or redesigned by a local artist. The fundraiser, in fact, bore the name Project Goat (Global Offensive Against Trafficking).
The event, which took place the day before Super Bowl LV at ZooTampa’s Saunders Pavilion, raised over $200,000, largely on the sale of 11 goats for between $5,000 and $10,000 each.
That was enough for Canton, the former executive vice president of the Tampa Bay Lightning who now raises goats (real ones) on a Hillsborough County farm, to pronounce the event a “home run” and a “smashing” success.
“In a Covid world, especially. Just a few weeks back, we were thinking about not having the event. And months ago we thought we would definitely not have it. That was before the vaccine.”
Still, “We’re talking now about having other events. We’re talking to venues now. We would have wanted to have other, smaller events leading up to this one, so people could see them. But still, we had somewhere between 300 and 400 people.”
And so the as-yet-unsold goats will return. “Fifty-five goats is a lot of goats, and 44 is still a lot of goats,” Canton said. “And that makes a big impression. Seeing them all together as a herd, it really is impactful. So selling 11 of them isn’t going to impact that ‘wow’ factor at all. We’re going to figure it out.”
The sold goats, Canton said, went to a wide variety of art lovers. “I think people found a personal connection with some of them. One went to an individual that runs a veterans’ organization. He’s a former Marine. And we had the Salute to Services goat, which was essentially a goat with a prosthetic leg in a U.S. Marine uniform.
“A Tom Brady fan loved the Tom Brady goat, and a Penn State alumni got the Penn State goat. There was really no rhyme or reason, other than if it struck a chord with you, and it was something you’d want to display in your garden, or even in your house, then that’s what you chose.”
Even the non-goat art made money; one painting by Tampa’s Nneka Jones went for more than $8,000; another artist’s canvas brought in $6,000. “And there were others that were $100 pieces,” Canton said. “So there really was a wide range for all tastes.”