More than 15 sanctuaries and advocacy organizations for farmed animals across the country are joining together in a coalition to oppose the exhibition and display of animals at state and county fairs. These fairs happen primarily in rural areas where farm sanctuaries are usually located, and most impact the animals cared for by farm sanctuaries, such as cows, pigs, and chickens. As of July 2023, Vegan FTA is a proud member of the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Fair Coalition and shares content with our millions of supporters and followers.
The coalition seeks to educate the public about the treatment of farmed animals at agricultural fairs and offer advocacy opportunities that supporters can implement in their own communities. Farm sanctuaries care for farmed animals every day and are uniquely positioned to recognize harm and abuse at these fairs.
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary started the coalition in 2022 after representatives attended local and state fairs in New York the year before to witness and report on what happened to animals on display. The Coalition website outlines standard practices at state and county fairs. The website features photos taken at the New York State Fair in 2021 and 2022—the photos portray the wide range of ways that state and country fairs celebrate the exploitation of animals (both domesticated and exotic) as “family friendly.” State and county fairs were created to celebrate and promote animal agriculture, and they are a major yearly event for farmers as well as children who participate in 4H or FFA programs.
Live birthing demonstrations, pig races, and confined inappropriate spaces for animals are all common sights at state and county fairs across the country. Many fairs have an auction component, where animals are sold to buyers to be killed for meat or used for breeding.
So, why is it important to educate about fairs? “What we discovered in 2021 when we shared images from our local agricultural fairs on social media” says Rachel McCrystal, Executive Director of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, “is that a lot of people weren’t aware of the harm that happens when animals are on display and exhibited at these fairs. They oftentimes were raised going to the fair and see the exhibitions, even things like pig races, as benign. But when you explain what happens to the animals before, during, and after the fair and how unnecessary it all is, people really do change their minds.”
The Coalition is encouraging those who would normally visit their local fair to instead visit and volunteer at an animal rescue or sanctuary, or take their family to visit a pick-your-own apple, berry, or pumpkin farm to experience plant farming. Supporters of the Coalition are also encouraged to contact their local fair sponsors to tell them why they won’t be attending the fair and write letters to local newspapers to shed light on the realities of state and county fairs.
Last year, the Coalition reached millions on social media during the active agricultural fair season with information, resources, footage of fairs around the country, and specific advocacy opportunities for local states and counties. The coalition will collect footage from fairs around the country to use for ongoing messaging and awareness.
Current members include: Woodstock Farm Sanctuary (New York); Catskill Animal Sanctuary (New York); Animal Place (California); Sleepy Pig Farm (New York); Loving Farm (California); The Homestead Animal Sanctuary (Ohio); Peace Ridge Sanctuary (Maine); Uncle Neil’s Home (New Jersey), Charlie’s Acres (California), Second Chance Chickens (New Jersey), Hope Haven Farm Sanctuary (Pennsylvania); Ziggy’s Refuge (North Carolina); Whispering Acres (Ohio), VINE Sanctuary (Vermont), Vegan F.T.A, Animal Rights Coalition (Minnesota), Horseracing Wrongs (New York); Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary (New Jersey).
For more information about the Coalition, including the most up-to-date list of member sanctuaries, please visit https://woodstocksanctuary.org/fair-coalition.