By Tom Collins
LOMBARDY —Visitors to the Lombardy Fair said the fair board should have listened to farmers instead of shutting down the pig scramble.
It was a decision that people really got worked up about. So much so, Farmers Forum went to the fair and conducted a survey of 25 fair-goers on Aug. 5. Seventeen (68 per cent) did not agree with the fair board’s decision to shut down the pig scramble. Only three attendees agreed and five remained neutral or had no opinion.
The Lombardy Fair cancelled the pig scramble after a small activist group, Toronto Pig Save, threatened to protest at the event. The pig scramble has children seven years and younger play tag with the pigs. The first child to touch a pig wins.
The majority of people surveyed said the scramble wasn’t hurting the pigs.
“They should have kept it open until they got sued for something,” said farmer Clare Dodds. “I just hate all those protestors. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re ridiculous.”
Cindy Gerow said it wasn’t fair to shut down scramble. “The pigs are bigger than the kids,” she said. “They just touch them. It’s not fair.”
“It’s not cruel to the animals,” said Dianne Beach. “It’s fun for the kids. City people don’t understand what it’s like out here. They come out and they try to change things. They’re just taking the fun out of everything.”
News of the cancellation has spread across the country. Jodi Anderson was at the fair while visiting from Alberta and said farmers were the experts and the board should listen to them instead of activists. The board includes several farmers.
“Everyone has their right to an opinion but professionals should be trusted,” she said. “The farmers and their judgement should be respected because that is their area of expertise.”
A professor at State University of New York was also at the fair and had heard about the cancellation.
“If somebody’s around to supervise that the animals are not injured, I don’t think there’s any reason to shut it down,” he said.
Erin Dolan said she had been looking forward to watching the pig scramble.
“It’s kind of a traditional thing,” she said. “I wanted to see it. The whole point of this fair is to try to help agriculture, so it’s opening your eyes to the agricultural world.”
But not everyone agreed. Jeanne Harfield said the fair was right to shut down the scramble.
“I think the fair is really fun and we want to keep it positive and highlight the agricultural community in a positive light,” she said. “If they’re getting backlash for something, maybe it’s a positive decision to focus on the positive things the agricultural community gives back to the community.”