Delaware County reconsiders fair's pig wrestling event

Animal rights advocates want pig wrestling eliminated from county fairs.
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An annual contest at county fairs billed as entertainment has ignited controversy from protestors across the country.

It's noisy. It's muddy. It's pig wrestling and it goes on at county fairs across the country, including right here in Indiana.

Animal rights advocates call it abuse.

"It's terrifying to the pigs," said Joel Kerr with the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance.

Typically, teams of four people chase a pig around a muddy ring and try to catch it with their bare hands. They win if they can get the pig to the center of the ring and put it up on a barrel or stand of some sort.

"I wish people would reconsider and think about what the pigs have to go through," said Kerr.

It seems at least 29,000 people from across the country are thinking about it.

They've signed a petition created on Change.org by an Indiana family to end pig wrestling at this summer's Delaware County Fair in Muncie.

"I think most people don't realize that this happens at most county fair across Indiana," said Kerr.

According to the Animal Rights Alliance, 28 counties in Indiana held pig wrestling events at their county fairs last year: Allen, Blackford, Boone, Brown, Clinton, Daviess, Delaware, Dubois, Fayette, Gibson, Greene, Grant, Hancock, Harrison, Jay, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, Miami, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Orange, Owen, Perry, Pike, Rush Spencer, Shelby and Warrick.

"They see this and think, 'Well it's good fun. Look at everybody having fun.' But who's not having fun in this picture? It's the being who's being exploited for the fun of everyone else," said Kerr.

The controversy surrounding pig wrestling isn't unique to Indiana. A church in Wisconsin just announced it was canceling its pig wrestling contest held for the past 40 years at the church's annual picnic because of growing protests.

Members of the Delaware County Fair Board declined to go on camera, but board president Jane Lasater told Eyewitness News the fair is not trying to offend anyone or hurt pigs with the event. Lasater said pig wresting has been very popular at the fair for the past six years and raised thousands of dollars annually that help maintain the fairgrounds.

Still, the board is now considering other options and will vote on the matter at a meeting next Wednesday night.

As far as folks like Joel Kerr are concerned, though, money or no money, pig wrestling's a dirty business.

"Money's never a reason to harm someone. It's never a good reason to do the wrong thing," said Kerr.