The Recorder – My Turn: An alternative to using animals as entertainment in county fairs

Published: 9/11/2022 10:08:10 AM

Modified: 9/11/2022 10:07:39 AM

As we experience another year of many agricultural fairs here in western Massachusetts, celebrating our land, our hard work and heritage, I would like to offer some ideas on alternatives to using animals as entertainment at these fairs. Specifically pigs, horses and oxen.

I realize that using animals is traditional. I remember when I was a little girl being up in New Hampshire with my family and seeing these things. It was unsettling to me. It seemed to me there was something that wasn’t quite right but I could never put my finger on it until I became an adult. I then discovered my love for animals and that they have the same needs that we have. They need socialization, water, food, shelter and the ability to procreate. We have taken the three animals that I mentioned above and use them, especially the horses and oxen, throughout history as what is called beasts of burden. That phrase was always unsettling to me.

As a 72-year-old woman I must say I fully understand the phrase “children live what they learn.”

It is my hope and I believe it is happening that we are realizing animals are not entertainment. They feel pain, hunger, cold, lack of water, unsafe or frightening conditions and many other things that we as humans experience. In the instance of the three animals above I am hard put to imagine that any pig, horse or oxen would choose what they are put through when they are used as entertainment this way.

I would like to offer some alternatives that I think would be healthy, wholesome and would bring people into the fair, so it would be a win-win-win situation.

How about the sack race!?

The strong man and strong woman event.

And finally, the traditional and always entertaining iron skillet throw.

If these three above events were put in place of using pigs, horses and oxen, I would imagine lots of people would come to see their friends participate.

The participants can choose and they can stay safe. They can move about freely. They are not transported in often cramped, hot conditions.

Children learn what they live.

May our hearts overcome our habits. Humankind be both.

Elizabeth Nett lives in Greenfield.


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