This weekend’s 145th annual Chilliwack Fall Fair and Rodeo is opening amid continued controversy after the fair’s board agreed to vote on the removal of two rodeo events before next year’s show.
Following an online campaign by the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) against the events, the Chilliwack Fair Board agreed to review the inclusion of tie-down calf roping and steer wrestling.
“The Chilliwack Fair Board of Directors will meet to determine whether the modification of these events to ensure animal safety is possible or if the cancellation of these events is warranted,” said a statement on the board’s website.
The vote won’t take place until September and won’t affect this year’s competition.
The VHS campaign featured photos taken at last year’s rodeo in Chilliwack, which depicted what they described as cruel abuse of calves and steers.
The Chilliwack Fair Board’s decision to consider the events lead to the suspension of the VHS campaign but it also triggered concern from rodeo fans that that the rodeo could be lost altogether.
The British Columbia Rodeo Association requires eight specific events take place, including tie-down roping and steer wrestling, in order for a rodeo to be sanctioned, allowing competitors to earn points.
As an unsanctioned event, the rodeo would struggle to attract competitors because the main driver of participation is earning points, not scoring the small purses of prize money, said Cathy Oss, acting director of the Chilliwack Fair Board
“We’d probably lose the rodeo and it would probably mean the end of the rodeo association,” Oss said.
Animals in pain, says VHS
Peter Fricker, projects and communications director for the Vancouver Humane Society, told Dan Burritt, guest host of CBC’s B.C. Almanac that the society’s photos showed “that animals are being subjected to pain and stress and fear at the rodeo.”
A number of rodeo participants have come to the defense of the practice saying the mechanics of roping and steer wrestling are regularly employed on ranches and farms to brand, vaccinate and control livestock.
“The men and the women, including our stock contractors, that participate in rodeos are the backbone of ranching and farming in this…