Animal-rights activists complained so loudly that they were able to get canceled a Bluffdale rodeo event intended for children to chase and catch small animals, but their voices were not powerful enough to save the pigs in Utah County.
I wrote two weeks ago of the protests about the Barnyard Bonanza planned for Bluffdale’s Family Fun Rodeo in early August. The event, as advertised, invited "little cowboys and cowgirls" to "come and chase around chickens, kittens, goats, rabbits and more! Whatever you catch, you get to take home."
When that was advertised, animal-rights groups began contacting rodeo organizers about what they considered cruelty to small animals.
Protesters were additionally appalled when Brandy Elegante, the rodeo chairwoman, posted on Facebook a request for unwanted pets to be donated to the event. They were aghast that small animals that had been pets would find themselves in this terrifying environment.
Elegante scrapped the event. She told me rodeo organizers instead would bring stuffed animals and hand them out to the kids at the time of the original event.
She said the protests were unwarranted, noting that no animals have ever been hurt in the annual event and those that were caught were taken home as pets.
Gillian says she and others tried to contact organizers and all three members of the County Commission, which oversees the fair, but got no response.
Just before Wednesday’s contest, she reached the event scheduler, who, Gillian said, was cordial and understanding, but was unable to cancel the pig wrestling at that late date. Gillian said the scheduler told her he was willing to discuss how that event might be changed in the future.
The Utah State Fair and Salt Lake County Fair have ceased staging pig-wrestling contests.
Gillian says a pig is released into a pen. Four adults then chase it around, throwing it down on the ground, often stepping on it and finally slamming the animal into a barrel.
A video of the Utah County Fair’s pig-wrestling event in 2012 reveals how terrified the pig becomes while being chased and assaulted. In the video, the pig’s squealing is so loud it can be heard over the din of the cheering crowd. At one point, the announcer is heard to say the squealing was hurting his ears.
Another video was taken at this year’s event, which, Gillian says, is just as disturbing.
Animal-rights groups also were unable to stop another Barnyard Scramble, held last week at the Sanpete County Rodeo.
Gillian said that after several attempts, she finally reached the rodeo’s co-chair the night before the event — again too late to get the scramble scrapped, though she said the contact seemed willing to discuss possible changes for next year.
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