Protesters ask crowd to boycott fair rodeo

Sunday, July 19, 1998

The Daily Herald (Suburban Chicago)

By Jennifer Taylor
Staff Writer

People attending the Kane County Fair Saturday had mixed emotions about the message rodeo protesters were chanting from the street as people entered the fairgrounds.

Families pushing their children in strollers clearly heard what Geneva activist Steve Hindi was asking as they crossed the pedestrian bridge over Route 38 into the fair.

"We're asking people not to support the rodeo," Hindi said with his bullhorn at his side. "It's all a matter of education."

While he encouraged people to enjoy the fair and its exhibits, he urged them to boycott the rodeo because he believes prodding and tying up animals for sport is cruel. Specifically, Hindi is critical of how rodeos use cattle prods of 5,000 volts to move steers in the right direction.

"He's got a point, it that's what they are doing," said Eric Holbrook of Lily Lake.

His wife, Katy, agreed, saying they wouldn't do that to their animals.

"I won't come to a rodeo. I think it's indecent what they do to the cows," said Richard Lake of Sycamore, adding he prefers the animal exhibits."

At a recent county board meeting, Hindi shocked himself twice with what he said was a cattle prod to prove his point. He also challenged cowboys at the rodeo Saturday to shock themselves.

A handful of men ventured toward the protesters to accept the challenge but were detoured by St. Charles police.

"They didn't want a confrontation," said DeKalb County Pork Ambassador Matt Huber of Rochelle.

Huber had planned to tell protesters how well the animals are treated.

"I think they are not educated on how animals are taken care of, especially show animals," he said.

Huber added he didn't believe the protesters knew how often prodding was used and that the animals were not abused. For example, he said, they are under fans and always kept cool.

Extra officer were at the fairgrounds just in case a scuffle occurred.

"We're out here to preserve the peace and allow them to conduct their peaceful demonstration," Deputy Chief Don Shaw said.

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