6 min read

People Got Together To Shut Down This 'Contest' Where Kids Swing Pigs

But it's still happening all over the U.S.

You just get all greased up and chase piglets around a tiny enclosure. The objective is to be the first to grab an animal - and pull her through a hula hoop.

It's for kids. Get it?

Well, apparently, people who like animals didn't get it either. The Greasy Pig contest at the South Mountain Fair in Ontario, Canada, has been shut down - thanks to a torrent of protest that reached the office of Ontario's Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

According to CBC News, organizers at the small fair opted to cancel the event rather than risk losing the sponsorship money chipped in by the provincial government.

The campaign, spearheaded by an advocacy group called Toronto Pig Save, decried the event as "horrifying."

Jacinta McDonnell, a Toronto animal advocate and Toronto Pig Save member, was among about 1,000 people who signed and shared the petition. She needed only look at photos from the event to draw her conclusions.

"You've got adults helping children grab a young pig," she tells The Dodo. "There's concern about how the pigs are being treated. Even just the physical thing about being outside in the heat."

And, of course, she adds, "there's the terror."

YouTube/Cheryl A. Cooper

While fair organizers have not responded to The Dodo's requests for comment, Paul Allan, president of the South Mountain Fair, expressed disappointment to CBC News, mostly blaming outside interference from people who didn't live in the town.

"I'm very upset that it's someone outside of our township," Allan said. "These people from out of town that don't know where South Mountain is ... I really have a hard time with that."

Blaming outsiders, of course, isn't an uncommon response among people who see longstanding tradition come to an abrupt end. And unfortunately the Greasy Pig contest hardly stood alone as animal event masquerading as entertainment.

The Clarke County Fair in Virginia has made an annual rite of its Greased Pig Scramble, a variant on its Canadian cousin that sees contestants in different age groups vying to bag a screaming pig.

Then there's the Ephrata Fair in Pennsylvania. Members of In Defense of Animals recently attended its Greased Pig Scramble, describing it thusly:

"A whistle was blown and dozens of screaming children and adults ran towards a beautiful little pig covered in chunks of grease fat," the group recounted on its Facebook page. "Hundreds of people in the audience were screaming, laughing, applauding, and making bacon references while shouting, 'dumb pig!'"

At the National Peanut Festival in Alabama, the song remains, sadly, the same. Local newspapers even profile children who win the greased pig contest. One kid's strategy? "You just jump on them."

Get the picture? It's not a pretty one. And while petitions like the one that helped end the Greasy Pig contest in Ontario may be part of the solution, there's a lot more work that needs to be done.

So squeals of terror never bring joy to an audience.

Especially when those squeals are coming from animals found to be as intelligent as a human toddler.

Does your local fair feature a similar contest? Consider sitting it out - and telling local organizers why you're doing so.

And consider signing as many petitions as you can. There's usually one for every greased pig event.

You can find one here. And here. And here. And here.