Rodeo dropped from festival

THE rodeo that was the cause of much public protest last year will not be part of this year's Lugarno Lions Spring Festival.

Festival organisers listened to the community and dropped the rodeo from the program.

"We made the decision last year and we told Hurstville Council soon after the festival that we wouldn't be doing the rodeo again," longtime festival committee member Ivan McKay said.

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"We are here to serve the community and we couldn't see the sense in upsetting a certain section of the community."

Hurstville Council had financed the rodeo as part of its sister city relationship with Tamworth, famous for its horse and cattle events such as bronco riding and cattle roping.

But it wasn't just the 40 or so animal welfare protesters who waved banners at the festival who swayed the Lions.

Mr McKay said the Lions received thousands of emails from all over the world, expressing in rather strong language their objection to animal cruelty.

"It took a while for the emails to stop coming — it went on for weeks," Mr McKay said.

The Lions are looking around for something else to draw the crowds.

"We strive so hard to provide free entertainment for the community and it can be difficult to find entertainment that people like for free," Mr McKay said.

Hurstville Council will continue to provide its usual support for the event: about $20,700 worth of benefits including rental, toilets, bins, generators, barricades, marquees, tables and chairs.

But it hasn't come up with anything to replace the rodeo.

Animal welfare advocates were ecstatic.

"Personally, in the year 2013 I am hoping this is sign of things to come," said activist Sylvia Raye.

"I think humans have evolved enough to know animals are not commodities, they are sentient beings just like us and they should not be forced to perform when there is potential risk of injury.

"It is well documented animals suffer greatly and are always at risk of injury not to mention the psychological trauma they go through.

Sharon Graham also congratulated the Lions for their decision.

"As they would have realised from the community reaction from last year, it is not something kindhearted, compassionate, intelligent people want to see as entertainment in a family day," she said.

"I have no doubt this will again be the fantastic day it was, without the abuse of animals as part of it."

The 34th Lugarno Spring Festival will be on September 22. About 45,000 people attended last year.

Do you agree with the decision to drop the rodeo from this year's Lugarno Spring  Festival?

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