Harrison Co. fair board keeps pig wrestling this year - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Harrison Co. fair board keeps pig wrestling this year

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Image from Grant Co., Ind., fair video Image from Grant Co., Ind., fair video

CORYDON, Ind. (WDRB) -- Pig wrestling will stay as an event at this year's Harrison County Fair.

The people who run the fair decided Wednesday to keep the July 15 event on the calendar, in part because the fair board already had a signed contract with the promoter of what's called an "Old Fashion Hog Callin' and Hog Catchin'" contest.

Board members discussed the issue during a meeting that lasted more than a hour. They will reconsider holding the event in 2016, said board member Doug Henricksen.

Animal rights supporters had targeted the fair for several weeks, asking the public if it believed the event to be animal cruelty or simply fair fun. They also passed out news articles to board members referencing other Indiana fairs that have canceled and stopped pig wrestling.

An online petition posted on Change.org asks the Harrison County Fair Board to cancel the pig wrestling event. The petition claims hog wrestling promotes animal cruelty.

Pig wrestling involves a team of four people chasing a pig in a muddy arena. Pig wrestlers have just 30 to 45 seconds to get the pig to touch a rubber tire.

"The idea behind it all is just something that anyone in the community can get involved with in the fair," said Henricksen, before the meeting.

2015 marks the first year for pig wrestling at the state's longest running county fair.

"It's horrific. It's scary," said local pastor James Higdon, who along with many others, wants the event banned in Harrison County and throughout the state of Indiana.

"This is a 4-H fair. We teach our kids to care and love and how to respect animals. This doesn't do it," said Higdon.

More than 17,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the muddy affair. Last month, the Delaware County, Indiana, fair canceled its pig wrestling contest after a similar online campaign. The fair board members said that 300 of the 10,000 signatures are local, and they would've reconsidered this year's decision if more of the signatures would have been from Harrison County.

"Would you like your dog out there participating in this? Would you like to have your cat out there participating in this? And if the answer is, of course, no then we shouldn't be doing this to pigs either," said Higdon.

"If we thought for one moment that animals were going to be hurt, we would not have the program as a part of our fair because we are taking pride in moving forward with a new generation at the Harrison County fair ground," said Henricksen. Eight of the nine fair board members said that they own livestock and they do not see animal cruelty in the competition.

Since the fair board has already contracted with a promoter for the event, Henricksen called allowing those opposed to speak at the meeting a courtesy.

Higdon says opponents are prepared to take the issue to state lawmakers. Another opponent, Tonya Tuell offered to raise money to buy out the 2015 contract through crowdsourcing, but board members were not interested.

The Harrison County Fair runs July 12-18 in Corydon. Click http://www.harrisoncountyfair.com/ for a schedule and other information.

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