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What the Chilliwack Fair could learn from other country fairs

Facts show country fairs are successful without cruel rodeo events

The Chilliwack Fair refuses to eliminate cruel rodeo events, stubbornly ignoring all the moral arguments and photographic evidence showing that its annual rodeo causes animal suffering.

The fair, operated by the Chilliwack Agricultural Society, has ignored pleas from VHS, the BC SPCA, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (Humane Canada) and Animal Justice.  They have ignored polls showing that 66 per cent of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeos. 

The fair doesn’t seem to care about animal welfare, but are they interested in being successful?  Here’s what happened to some other B.C. country fairs when they agreed to drop or curtail rodeo events.

After a campaign by VHS and Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events, the Luxton Fair on Vancouver Island cancelled its rodeo in 2015.  Fears were expressed at the time that the fair would not survive without the rodeo.  But that’s not what happened. The fair not only survived – it thrived. In 2017, a local newspaper quoted a fair organizer saying that despite the lack of a rodeo, “we’re still getting good crowds.”

The same thing happened when the Abbotsford Agrifair cancelled its rodeo in 2016. (also after a VHS campaign).  The Abbotsford News reported that attendance went up after the rodeo was cancelled.

After a long campaign by VHS, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair dropped four of the worst rodeo events (calf-roping, steer-wrestling, team-roping and wild cow-milking) in 2007.  Again, there were predictions that the fair would suffer. Instead, attendance at the fair has gone from 81,000 in 2004 to 110,000 in 2018 (36%). During the same period, attendance at the remaining rodeo portion of the fair has only increased from19,500 to 21,000 (8%).

The message is clear: Country fairs don’t need cruel rodeo events to be successful.  It’s a message the Chilliwack Fair would be foolish to ignore. 

TAKE ACTION: If you haven’t already done so, please join our effort to convince the Chilliwack Fair’s sponsors to take a stand against rodeo cruelty.