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Hog Wrestling Events At County Fair Target Of Animal Advocates
Updated August 4, 2015 8:22 AM
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Photo Greene County Daily World - The sheer fun of the Hog Wrestling Contest at the Greene County 4-H Fair is evident by the smiles on the faces of contestants (from left) Kaleigh Fulford, Britney Huddleston, Mariah Samm and Tara Lambermont. (Shad Cox).

(UNDATED) - Hog wrestling - for some, it's a county fair tradition; others call it inhumane and cruel.

The increasingly controversial event is happening less and less at fairs around the country. In Indiana, several counties have removed it from their summer fairs - in part because of online petitions.

Animal advocates think hog wrestling is abusive and needs to stop. Supporters say it's good, safe fun.

Hog Wrestling event at the Greene County Fair is a popular spectator show. It was held July 17.

The grandstand holds around 1,000 spectators and it's usually filled to capacity when teams of locals compete for T-shirts and bragging rights.

Participants do not compete directly against each other -- they compete against the clock.

The object is to catch the pig and set it on top of a 55-gallon drum as quickly as possible. The pig is not placed inside the barrel but is just set on the top. The barrel will have a tire around the top so there are no sharp edges -- this protects the wrestlers as well as the pig.

The size of the animals ranges from 40-200 pounds. The pig a team will wrestle is selected based on the age and size range of the wrestlers with younger, smaller wrestlers being matched with smaller pigs.

The pit will be a ring 20 feet across and two feet deep, but it will only be half-full -- the mud will be approximately one foot deep.

A pig will be let loose in the muck. Then the clock starts when the wrestlers jump into the pit. It stops when the pig is on the barrel, in 45 seconds or less. The team that has the fastest time in their category wins. No mud slinging allowed.

First place teams in each category won $125 and a T-shirt.

The majority of competitors were current or recent 4-H members but there was also adult teams that enter that enter.

In some years past, there have been around 80 teams in the competition.

The girls involved in the event giggled nearly as much as the pigs squealed. But online, there's less laughter as thousands of people have signed onto petitions calling the event animal cruelty for the sake of entertainment.

Morgan County Fair leaders also held a pig wrestling event. They discussed canceling the event like Delaware County's Fair Board did, but decided not to give in to outside pressure.

"A pig is going to squeal. That's their nature," said Ellen Wilson-Pruitt, Morgan County Fair president. "You look at a pig and it's going to squeal. That's how they communicate. A lot of people feel because they're hearing a pig squeal that he's being harmed in some way. That's not the case."

Fair operators say precautions like a small pen, a short wrestling time of just 45 seconds and restrictions on pulling ears or limbs are all in favor of the pigs.

There are at least two petitions on calling out Indiana fairs for hosting hog wrestling events. So far, those petitions have gained more than 35,000 signatures combined.

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