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Friday, August 14, 2009

The County Fair

I've long since sworn off of zoos and circuses with animal acts, and yet, when the fair comes to town, I feel compelled to take Carlos. I have mixed feelings about the fair. One one hand, it seems like such an all-American classic summertime activity - a fun way to spend an afternoon as a family - but on the other hand, there's this...

... beautiful animals, well cared for by (one would assume) reasonably caring and well-meaning adults and children - displayed with pride, and for may people, I daresay love. And yet subjected to indignities and cruelties like painful horn removal, I'm sure without anesthetic.

Ouch. And worse yet, so many of these animals will soon go to auction and slaughter. I will never be able to understand the dissonance inherent in this situation. These 4-H/FFA kids spend huge amounts of time taking really good care of their animals, learning lessons about selflessness and responsibility, growing attached to their charges and experiencing the joy of inter-species relationships, only to be forced to learn the 'ultimate lesson' that none of this matters - that it's okay to betray a friend - that it's necessary to inflict pain and suffering on others in order to become a mature, responsible adult. It's incredibly sad, and I just don't get it.

Marji at Animal Place posted a great article on this subject the other day if you'd like to read more.

I beg to differ.

The whole atmosphere of the fair is disconcerting to me. I feel like even my choice of attire is a loaded issue - if I wear my usual animal rights themed t-shirts, would I get weird looks? or perhaps even rude comments? Even my 'love animals / don't eat them' bumper sticker makes me wonder if my car might get keyed in the parking lot. Weird thoughts to be having at a festive place like the fair, right?

So what do you think, fellow animal activists - do you go to the fair when it comes to your town? I'm especially interested to hear from folks with kids. Am I exposing Carlos to a harmless afternoon of fun, or am I subtly showing him that it's okay to exploit animals?


paddyo said...

Tough call, indeed. I grew-up with farmers and experienced much of what you have mentioned e.g. raising then discarding animals.

Perhaps you should continue to take your son to the fair to show him, firsthand, how wrong it is to nuture an animal only to allow it to be sold/slaughtered.


Anonymous said...

Tamara, we've been struggling with this same issue. I became a vegetarian after what I witnessed at a state fair in 1994. I grew up going to the fair every single year, but I haven't been back since that one in 1994.

Now L is in Kindergarten, and they've been talking at school about our county fair which opened this past weekend. Tonight is student night at the fair.

What to do, what to do? L is a vegetarian too and very sensitive about the way animals are treated. She even stands up for the wasp that's been flying around inside her school's library and doesn't want it killed. :-)

Like paddyo suggested, maybe we could use the fair as further teaching moments. There are plenty there - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Have you thought more about this and come to any conclusions?

Take care.

Jennifer G. from NC (chinababe2004 and a firstadopt buddy)