Animal activists protest 'cruel' pig scrambles to take place at 'fair of all NH fairs'
DEERFIELD — The Deerfield Fair is coming to town, but animal activists are protesting one of their most popular events — the pig scramble.
Kristina Snyder, who is a part of the New Hampshire Animal Rights League, called the the act of chasing pigs and putting them in a bag to take home "a recipe for cruelty."
"They squeal in terror and run scared for their lives," Snyder wrote in a petition that has gained over 70,000 supporters, almost 500 who are from New Hampshire.
Those who catch a pig are allowed to keep them, but Snyder claims that these pigs are often returned or not cared for properly.
"The Deerfield Fair really doesn't think of these pigs as anything besides entertainment," Snyder said.
Many of the petitioners reached out in the comment section of the online petition to express their view points of the fair.
"My first (and only) trip to the Deerfield Fair, two years ago was terrific ... until I watched the horrifying pig scramble. Terrible lesson to the participating children that it's OK to terrify and hurt harmless baby animals and unspeakably cruel to the pigs. The sight and sound still haunt me. Please end this practice," Jacki F. from New Hampshire wrote.
Vice president of the fair, Richard Pitman, believes that these activists have gotten what happens during the scramble all wrong.
"It's nothing at all what the petition has cracked it up to be," Pitman said.
Pitman, who has attended the "fair of all New Hampshire fairs" for over 50 years and has helped at for close to 30, said he has no intention of stopping the pig scramble.
People volunteer to take part in the event so they can take the pigs home after catching them. According to Pitman, these volunteers are kind and loving toward the animals and get excited to have the opportunity to raise them at home. He often gets calls from those who have caught pigs in the past thanking him for the opportunity and to let him know how well the pigs are doing, Pitman said.
"This is one of the most positive events we hold," Pitman claimed, saying that many people learn valuable lessons from raising the pigs. However, Snyder argues that this event is not teaching children or people compassion.
Snyder also said that these animals are often jumped on, pulled by the tail and legs, and shoved roughly into bags during the event. She added that if this happened to puppies instead, people would be in an uproar.
Pitman states that in his 30 years of helping out at the fair, he has never received a report about pigs being injured.
"I grew up a farm boy in Hollis, so I understand animals. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize the welfare of them," Pitman said.
The fair will take place from Sept. 28-Oct. 1. Organizers are holding five pig scramble events:
- Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. for ages 8 to 10. Sign-up ends at 1 p.m.
- Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. for ages 11 to 13. Sign-up ends at 1 p.m.
- Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. for ages 8 to 10. Sign-up ends at 1 p.m.
- Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. for ages 11-13. Sign-up ends at 1 p.m.
- Oct. 1 at 2:15 p.m. for adults. Sign-up ends at 1 p.m.
Snyder is holding a protest Sept. 28 from 1-3 p.m. at the fair.
The Stratham Fair, which took place in July, also faced scrutiny from PETA for their pig scramble events.
In an "Action Alert" on the PETA website, the organization called the event inhumane.
PETA had asked people to send a letter to fair officials urging them to end the event. However, Stratham Fair admissions official Francisco Marin said they would continue to hold the event.