Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this April 20, 2013 file photo, singer and songwriter Joan Jett is seen in Baltimore. Some South Dakota farmers and ranchers are questioning the choice of Jett to grace the state's float in the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The livestock producers say Jett is a poor choice because she is a vegetarian and supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
Macy’s moves Joan Jett off S. Dakota float for Thanksgiving parade
First Published Nov 15 2013 12:40 pm • Last Updated Nov 15 2013 12:46 pm

Sioux Falls, S.D. • Some South Dakota farmers and ranchers are upset by the selection of singer-guitarist Joan Jett, a vegetarian and animal rights advocate, to perform on the state’s float in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are scheduled to appear at the annual event in New York City, riding on the float that promotes South Dakota tourism and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial located in the Black Hills.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Cory Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, said Wednesday he thinks it was a mistake to select Jett because she is a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promotes a vegetarian diet and criticizes livestock production practices. Her stands don’t mesh with South Dakota, a state where the cattle industry makes up a huge part of the economy, he said. The Rapid City Journal first reported some South Dakota residents were upset with the pick.

"To me, it seems like a huge blunder," Eich said. "I guess I couldn’t disapprove more. I don’t understand what they were thinking."

South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said many people have mistakenly assumed state officials selected Jett to appear on the float. None of the artists the state proposed were available or willing to appear in the parade, so Macy’s selected Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, he said.

"It’s not because of any ill will Macy’s is trying to create or anything," Hagen said. "They were just trying to do what they thought would be a great artist for us."

Hagen said state officials are sensitive to the concerns of the livestock industry, particularly since tens of thousands of cattle and other livestock were killed in the massive rain and snow storm that hit western South Dakota in early October.

Larry Gabriel, a former state lawmaker and state agriculture secretary who ranches near Quinn in western South Dakota, said Jett is entitled to her beliefs, but he hopes she doesn’t use her appearance on South Dakota’s float to promote her vegetarian beliefs or PETA.

Kristen Foster, a spokeswoman for Jett, said that Jett has played in South Dakota countless times and is a fan of the state. Jett just accepted a gracious offer to appear on South Dakota’s float, she said.

Dan Mathews, senior vice president of PETA, said the livestock industry is being defensive because it is the South Dakota industry most destructive to the environment, human health and animals.

story continues below
story continues below

"We’re surprised that ranchers want to draw attention to themselves by being crybabies over the appearance of a vegetarian icon such as Joan Jett on the state’s float," Mathews said in an email.

Eich, of the Cattlemen’s Association, said PETA wants to destroy animal agriculture and added that farmers and ranchers treat their animals well.

"You don’t mistreat your livelihood," Eich said.

Hagen said the state paid $175,000 to support the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and have a float in the event, and $5,000 of that goes to pay expenses for the artist on the float.

Hagen earlier had said Jett is a rock ‘n’ roll legend who appeals to a generation of visitors that South Dakota wants to attract.

He noted that more than 3 million people are expected to watch the parade on the streets of New York, with more than 50 million watching the event on television nationwide.

"It’s never been about the artist for us in terms of who’s on that float. It’s about the fact that Mount Rushmore and South Dakota can be seen and heard by tens of millions of people," the tourism secretary said.

Neil Diamond appeared on South Dakota’s float in 2011, and Don McLean, singer of American Pie, appeared last year.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.