For many New England families, the official signs of fall include foliage, apple cider donuts and a trip to the Deerfield Fair. But one Chester resident is hoping that she can convince people to think a little differently about one of the fair’s long-standing traditions: The Pig Scramble.
Kristina Snyder is planning on greeting visitors of the 141st Deerfield Fair on Thursday with a group of around 30 protestors, all holding signs that call for the cancellation of an event that organizers describe as the source of “happy memories” for families at the fair for more than 30 years.
The object of the pig scramble is to chase (or scramble) after a piglet in a pen and try to stuff it into a burlap sack. In Deerfield, the games are open to kids between the ages of 8 and 13, and the winner gets to take their piglet home with them. According to fair organizers, the pig prize has often led kids to join 4-H clubs and get involved in farming.
But to Snyder, an animal rights advocate, the pig scramble is "appalling." She started an online petition, demanding the Deerfield Fair stop the event, and at last check, was able to gather over 110 thousand signatures. She is also organizing a protest in front of the fair’s welcome sign.
“People have messaged me or commented and said ‘Hey, you know this is bacon, right? You know this is a pork chop, right?’” Snyder said. “Even if that’s the case though, why does that give an alright to chase and harass these little piglets?
The protest is expected to begin around 1:00pm. Snyder said she is not encouraging any of the protesters to disrupt the fair or the scheduled pig scramble, as her goal is just to increase awareness.
Deerfield Fair Vice president and spokesperson Richard Pitman doesn’t recall there ever being protests at the fair before.
“The fair has done everything it can do to do things right by the book, so we’re gonna continue our 34 year tradition of a lot of happy memories of the pig scramble,” Pitman said.
Pitman said he’s never had a complaint of an injured pig or person, and he’s heard many participants have gone on to join 4-H clubs.
Along with a pig, winners of the contest are sent home with a bag of grain, instructions on caring for pigs, and a number to call if they want to bring the pig back.