A demonstration by animal rights activists greeted ticket holders as the Valley West Stampede got underway in Langley on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3.
Eight protesters set up a sun shade by the entrance to the rodeo grounds, with a sign that read “Animals are not for entertainment. Change my mind.”
They also held placards that read “Don’t lie to your children. This place hurts animals,” “Your fun, their pain,” and “Exploiting animals for entertainment is wrong.”
Members of the group said they were affiliated with “Anonymous for the Voiceless,” an animal rights group.
Speaking for the demonstrators, Paul Fader said it was “cruel and wrong to use animals for entertainment.”
Another one of the protesters, Ty Lauriente, said most people entering the rodeo were “completely complicit in animal abuse,” and unwilling to engage with the protesters.
“We take a passive approach,” Lauriente explained.
“We don’t talk to people if they don’t talk to us.”
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Sheila Hicks, president of Valley West Stampede, disagreed with the demonstrators, saying the animals are well cared for.
“I say, come down and check us out,” Hicks told the Langley Advance Times.
“These animals are like our family, they’re the best of the best, they’re high-performance athletes,” Hicks said.
“Their success is our success. So we want everybody healthy and safe, and that’s why we’ve done all the upgrades to the grounds, and why we have a vet on site for the entire performance.”
On Saturday, stands that could accommodate up to 2,000 people at the Langley Riders Society facility were full, with hundreds more seated on the grassy knoll overlooking the arena.
The Labour Day weekend rodeo is being held in partnership with the society, who have been staging amateur rodeo events, like the Little Britches Rodeos for kids, for more than 50 years.
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Sanctioned by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA), the event has drawn riders from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Australia
Valley West Stampede will run until Monday, Sept. 5.
Tickets are available online or at the gate.
More photos from the first day can be viewed online at the Langley Advance Times Facebook page.
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