Piglets are out and greased watermelons are in, as a long tradition disappears at a county fair in Northern California.
Bowing to public concern and protests about animal welfare, the Sonoma County Fair has dropped the pig scramble, a staple of the fair’s Farmers Day events for half a century.
In the event, about a dozen young pigs, weighing 40 to 50 pounds, are released on a dirt track, and a crowd of children chase after them.
In the event’s early days, the winners kept the piglet they caught, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. More recently, the piglets are turned over to grownups and the children receive gift certificates.
The pig scramble will be replaced with an event for kids in which they try to carry a watermelon slathered with vegetable oil around an obstacle course.
Kids Events in Fresno Area
The Big Fresno Fair doesn’t have an event like the pig scramble. Its closest comparison are pig races, conducted in a closed track.
The Clovis Rodeo features “mutton bustin’,” in which children try to ride full-grown sheep.
‘The Jury’s Still Out’
Farmers Day at the fair, held in Santa Rosa, has seen attendance decline in recent years. Rob Muelrath, president of the fair board, told the Press Democrat he wasn’t sure the watermelon event would be the ticket for boosting attendance.
“The jury’s still out,” he said. “We’ll see how many kids are interested.”
Gemma Vaughan, a caseworker for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), applauded the Sonoma County Fair’s decision.
“It shows there’s always a creative option to animal cruelty,” Vaughan told the Press Democrat.
(GV Wire contributed to this report.)