Johnson County group protests funding child rodeo at county fair

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — Unnecessary abuse for animals.  That’s what some in Johnson County are calling children’s rodeos, and they’re asking county supervisors to take a stand.

Monday, some Iowans took to the Johnson County Supervisor’s Budget Meeting and asked the supervisors to not award a grant to the Johnson County Agricultural Association, unless they cut the rodeo from the county fair.

375 signatures were collected on a petition to cut the funding, from resident of Johnson County who agree that the kid’s rodeo should be a thing of the past.

“I have a question, is it wrong to cause unnecessary cruelty to animals?,” asked Lynn Gallagher, an outspoken animal rights advocate in Johnson County.

Gallager called children’s rodeos an outdated tradition that promotes abuse for profit and entertainment.  Others agreed, calling it an outdated tradition.

“There have been bans on circuses that use live animals, for example, in cities and states across the country and we’re seeing more entertainment that’s based on humans and Cirque du Soleil,” said Allison Jaynes at the budget meeting.

Jaynes also opposes the rodeo and said it doesn’t align with the communities values, and that it’s a bad precedent to teach children.

The Johnson County Ag Association requested a $110,000 grant, which helps put on the fair and maintain the facilities.

“The Ag Association is about more than one event, such as it’s the emergency shelter for disasters, all animals in the counties would go there.  It’s the fallout shelter for two counties,” said Supervisor Janelle Rettig.

The supervisors agreed that the money shouldn’t be used to put on the rodeo, but they still needed to grant the funds to maintain the facilitates.

The debate Monday then sparked a conversation on making the fair more inclusive.

“Let’s make sure we are including everybody, even if you have to go multicultural. There’s a lot of money given to them every year. I know it’s 4-H, I know it’s cattle and everything, but let’s include more people,” said Supervisor Royceann Porter.

A final decision will be made on Thursday. However, the supervisors said they plan to ensure the money can only be used to run the fair, not to promote or put on events.

The person behind the petition said she was disappointed that the supervisors didn’t take a more firm stance against the rodeo.  The supervisors said they didn’t want to set a standard of pulling money because they don’t agree with all of the programs that are run.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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