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Despite complaints from across the country, the Dunn County sheriff's office says authorities don't object to the pig chase and chicken toss at a Pioneer Day event later this month.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune file photo

EAU CLAIRE -- The Dunn County sheriff’s office has received telephone calls from across the country complaining about a Feb. 17 Ridgeland festival where activities include a chicken toss and a greased pig chase.

A Facebook post from the sheriff’s office stated authorities have no problems with a Pioneer Day event later this month because no animals are injured in the children’s pig chase or the chicken toss, where poultry are dropped from a one-story building. The chickens are a breed that can fly and land on the ground, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office will not block the two events at Pioneer Day because more than eight years ago an animal rights group from Madison attended Pioneer Day and did not see any violation of the law.

Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith said he hasn’t seen anyone mishandle a chicken or pig during Pioneer Day in the past. He said that many of the chickens that are caught by children are taken home as pets. If a chicken isn’t caught, he said that it lands on the ground safely.

Smith said the county has received calls from all over the U.S. but has not received any local complaints.

“We’ve had so many phone calls from all over the place,” he said, adding some calls sound as if people are reading from a script.

As of Thursday, more than 76,000 people have signed a petition against the pig and chicken events. The petition is organized by Alliance for Animals, which, according to its website, is a non-profit animal rights and environmental organization. In the petition it cites that Drunk’n Monkey Bar and Hotel in Ridgeland is sponsoring the chicken toss.

He said that deputies will monitor the event.

Ashley Glaser, owner of Drunk’n Monkey Bar and Hotel, said Pioneer Day is a community-sponsored event and the money raised goes toward village projects. Glaser said she is aware of the petition and has no issue with people protesting.

“We have no problem with people voicing their opinion,” she said.

Adam Shipley, owner of Sportsmen’s Bar & Grill in Ridgeland, said that he and the rest of the Pioneer Day committee agree with the sheriff office’s statement on Facebook.

He said the pig and chicken events have been ongoing for most of the 36 years Pioneer Day has existed.

“We’ve been through this before,” he said.


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