"In light of the number of complaints received about the proposed ‘Ardnaree Grand National’, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10 July, the Ballina Salmon Festival committee has decided to cancel the event.
The event, a joint initiative between a number of Ardnaree-based businesses which included pig racing had received enthusiastic local support. However over the past 24 hours, the Ballina Salmon Festival Office received a number of complaints by phone and social media about the planned event, with concerned objectors raising concerns about potential animal cruelty.
While the committee of Ballina Salmon Festival had carried out due diligence on the proposed event, and had been satisfied that neither the format of the racing itself, nor the conditions in which animals were housed or transported, constituted any level of cruelty to the pigs, it nevertheless acknowledges the worries of those concerned, and has decided to replace the event with a street party on the same date.
Chairman of Ballina Salmon Festival Billy Lewis said: “While we were more than satisfied that the welfare of the animals involved was paramount at all times, we do acknowledge the sincerity of the concerns raised by members of our community and local animal charities. As a community festival we are grateful that people took the time to make their feelings known to us, and in light of their concerns, after consulting with our volunteer event leaders, we have decided to cancel the event.
Ballina Salmon Festival has always been a family-friendly celebration, and our aim has never been to upset or offend people, but to deliver events that people enjoy.”
Ballina Salmon Festival depends entirely on volunteers and on local support to design and deliver its programme of events. It is a first and foremost a family-friendly festival, which includes over 70 events designed to entertain and delight adults and children of all ages.
The festival committee would now like to invite everyone, including those who took time to contact the festival to raise concerns, along to the Ardnaree Street Party on Tuesday, July 10th from 8pm, for some live music, street entertainment and delicious food. The party will be family-friendly and entirely animal free, save for the famous ‘pig on a spit’ which has featured at the festival for many years. There are sure to be lots of surprises on the night, and more than likely, some more twists in the tale."