Hog wrestling in Wisconsin


This is the time of year where “county fairs” are popping up all over the United States.  These community events almost invariably center around animal exploitation, with 3/4 of the attractions in some way animal-related (not even including the food element).  I suspect that if animals and animal products were removed from most county fairs, you’d be left with a few rickety rides and a cotton candy machine.

The other day, Chad posted a link to this slideshow over at the Food Fight Blog.  It’s from a “hog wrestling” event in Wisconsin.  The following image is the first one displayed in the slideshow.  I’m showing it here in its original size to be sure it sinks in.


(Justin Connaher, Sheboyganpress.com) 

This picture’s been on my mind since I first saw it.  To me, it illustrates how far so many people are from the reality of animal suffering.

The event has its own web site at eldoradohogwrestle.org.  It’s sponsored by the Eldorado (Wisconsin) Fire Department/Lions Club and is “a timed competition where four person teams enter the “watery/mud” arena and try to catch-a-pig.”  Each pig is “used” one time and “treated humanely,” ensured by three people in the arena that “guarantee that no harm will come to the pig.”

The site then snarkily adds, “(At least not until it is taken to “market” on Monday morning.)”  Because as long as you treat them humanely while wrestling them for sport on Sunday, it’s OK to slit their throats come Monday.

Really, it’s pretty amazing how they go out of their way to describe how well the animals are treated during the event:

Hog wrestling is a timed competition where four person teams enter the “watery/mud” arena and try to catch-a-pig.  The goal is to catch, control and then carry the pig to the center of the ring, and then lifted up onto a padded barrel in 60 seconds or less.  Each hog is only used once!  Sixty teams try to “ham it up” in one way or another; but it is the slippery pigs that are the center of attention.  The porkers are clearly in the element, the competitors clearly are not.  The pigs are treated humanely; otherwise the entire team will get disqualified! We have two officials and a “hose man” in the arena with each team to guarantee that no harm will come to the pig.  (At least not until it is taken to “market” on Monday morning.)  The hogs immediately get hosed down with water, walked back to a shaded area to rest, which is more than our contestants get!  The whole thing ends up being a tremendous amount of fun as thousands of people look on under the blazing sun and temperatures (and beer) that make most people sweat like er, well..like pigs!

I don’t know about you, but to me, the picture above doesn’t depict a “humane” event.

Is it humane to drag these animals into an “event” that they obviously didn’t agree to?  Is it humane to confuse, scare, and hurt the pig by letting him be attacked and wrestled to the ground by groups of four (with names like “Team Deliverance” (pictured above), “P.E.T.A.” (how much you wanna bet that’s short for the oh-so-clever “People Eating Tasty Animals”), and “Bringing Home the Bacon”).

The picture above depicts a scared animal being tackled violently to the ground with what looks to be a bruised or bloodied leg.  Children and their families look on, smiling at this “silly” event.  To them, it might as well be a “kiss-the-pig” contest because, hey, the pigs are “in their element.” Yet, I doubt a single one of them could provide any reason why an event like this is either OK or necessary.

This is not a victimless event.  This is not fun for all.  This is not entertainment.

(Since my entry on hog-dog rodeos several years ago drew a slew of idiots, I’ll state right now that when the hog wrestling defenders arrive, any comments I deem trollish will be deleted.  Period.)

63 Responses to “Hog wrestling in Wisconsin”

  1. gladcow

    I doubt they would call that humane if they used a dog or a child. Or even a grown human, for that matter. It’s four against one and the one didn’t even consent. I’m so mad I could spit. and so very sad.

  2. Becci

    Horrible, horrible. Is there someone we can write to? (I don’t really see any point in contacting the idiots who run the website.) Should we contact the El Dorado mayor or something?

  3. Mary

    I appreciate you putting the photo up so high, because it is disturbing. I can’t stop thinking about it. As a child in the South, my grandmother registered me in a greased piglet contest at the county fair. I just remember the terrified baby pigs running like hell from crazed kids, tripping, falling on them, etc. I’m glad there was never anything like this at the fairs I attended.

  4. kelly g.

    That’s just horrifying. Really, there are no words.

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  6. xen

    This is just sick. Again I lose bit more hope in humans.

  7. Bea Elliott

    These poor, terrified pigs – just a disgrace what is done to animals in the name of “entertainment” and “food”. I’m with you xen – my misanthropy is at an all time high.

  8. b

    I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this for the past two days. I went to so many country fairs as a kid, before I understood what was happening (I just wanted to visit the animals!). I never saw anything like this. Maybe I just wasn’t around at the time :(

  9. mary martin

    I’ve (unfortunately) become accustomed to seeing images of wanton cruelty, and I’m most often able to keep my reaction in check. But that’s disgusting and inconscionable, and the sight of the smiling faces and the small children in the stands is sickening.

  10. mary martin

    Unconscionable–sorry. My rage makes typing accurately difficult.

  11. Peter

    I can’t understand why assaulting an animal like this is not a crime. It shows a severe lack of empathy for life.

  12. bazu

    I’m about ready to cry. I can’t get the image of that pig’s face out of my head. It is so clearly distressed, scared, and confused- and yes in pain. I don’t plan on going to a state fair anytime soon.

  13. Matt

    Dont those losers have anything better to do?

    Go to a baseball game? Get a date? Attempt to evolve….something?

  14. Lauren

    My town just had it’s yearly fair and they did this, along with llama chasing, and lots of other ridiculous and inhumane events. I’m so embarrassed to live in a place where people don’t think anything of it. I wish there was a way to make people understand, but living in Southern Indiana…it’s just a dream…

  15. Danette

    When I was a vegetarian the first time, I went to a local county fair and I saw a small elephant that had been tied up. He/she was just standing there swaying from side to side. I began to cry. It did not take a rocket scientist to realize why the elephant was rocking.

    From that day on, I swore never to go to a circus again…and I haven’t.

  16. Lauren

    i’ve only been to one, and that was 5 years ago and i never will again…

  17. selina

    this makes me sooo sad. that poor pig.

    i love pigs & i just dont understand people.

  18. Gary

    What a terrible indictment on our species that for fun we terrorize and (soon afterward) kill animals.

  19. Gary

    I was thinking about how the promoters of this blatant cruelty issue the pathetic, pro-forma declaration that it’s “humane.” The word – at least when uttered by the perpetrators of gratuitous meanness and violence on animals – has become watered down to the point of being meaningless.

    I believe that at some level – however suppressed – the offenders know good and well that it’s fundamentally wrong to harm animals for fun, and at a more conscious level, they realize that the public objects to brazen animal cruelty. So as a token gesture that combines spin and denial, they assure everyone (including themselves) that what they’re doing is humane. Hey, they’re washing off the victim afterward, so that’s humane, right? I don’t think anyone is fooled. The pig certainly isn’t.

  20. Maple

    WTF!!!! What is the matter with this world. Just plain awful!!!

  21. Cassidy Anne

    I am a new vegan (vegetarian for 6 years, vegan for 3 months) and I did not become a vegan for animal rights or because animal suffering was on my mind. However, posts and blogs like this have really helped to open my eyes on how horrible animal suffering really is! Thank you for posting this. Initially, all I saw was some guys and a pig wrestling, but when you really look at the photo you can see how horrible it is!

  22. Sarah

    I also am horrified by the image. I cant stop looking at it, though I just want to cry. I always compare what someone is doing to an animal to how i would react if they did it to one of my dogs. And if anybody got near my dog and did this to them, I dont see how people can see it as a happy family event. What also makes me sick is to think how Illinois and Wisconsin are some of the largest hog producers in the country…where I live. I refuse to visit any of the state fairs, I think if I got close to anything like this Id get arrested for trying to do something.

  23. Nikki

    As the adopted Mom to two lovely pigs I could not help but cry seeing this image as I have seen many of pigs being treated cruelly and horribly on the way to being slaughtered etc. If this doesn’t sum up the base evil that permeates the human race – I don’t know what could – except that humans do equally horrible things to each other as well and to children. Just horrible. That poor creature. Thank you for posting this. This cuts to the heart of the matter.

  24. blackrat

    This picture made me so angry how can anyone think this is sport! god its bad enough that horse racing and dog races are also seen as a “humane” sport(yeah right) but this is taking the piss, if I had kids there is no way I would take them to such a cruel event, oh makes me so cross people are so oblivious to animal suffering.

  25. Ally

    If you’ve never been to the hog wrestling in Eldorado you can’t comment on it. These pigs are going to the slaughter house the next day. I hope none of you eat any pig. Maybe you’ve already eaten the pig in this pic. You might also like to know they serve the best pork sandwiches at this picnic. Mmmm. As for the first comment, get real. Yeah you’re going to see them put children and grown adults in there. That is the stupidist comment. I have 2 children and they love watching it. We’ve never missed a year.

  26. Ryan

    Oh boy, here they come.

    These pigs are going to the slaughter house the next day. I hope none of you eat any pig.

    Actually, we don’t.

    It’s really comforting to know that the day before the pigs get their throats slit that they get to be kicked around and wrestled by groups of four people. That’s definitely something people should be proud to expose their children to.

  27. Mia

    How incredibly ignorant and backward. I just can’t get over the fact that people think this is entertainment! It’s so pathetic. To think that the parents in the audience teach their children to forget about their natural compassion for animals is sick.

  28. vegoftheweek


    I lived in Southern Indiana for awhile. Right in the “toe” of the boot:) It was hard to get veg stuff sometimes. It basically consisted on going to the other side of town to 1 grocery store.

    As for the comment about “I hope none of you eat any pig.”-well, duh. Why else are we on here?

    And if a terminally ill person was going to die in 3 weeks, you wouldn’t wrestle with them and knock them around Ultimate Fighter style (unless that was there last wish) just because they’re going to die soon anyway. Ditto for going to the slaughter house on Monday anyway argument.

  29. Shannon M.

    I don’t even have to look at that pic to get so upset I’m crying. Why do these subhumans insist on showing their “manhood” by acting like pussies? Why not try boxing, karate, etc. that takes actual skill against WILLING participants (people), not helpless animals who are terrified. God I am ashamed to be part of the human species when I see things like this. Oh wait, they’re not really human, are they?

    Very Sincerely,

    Animal Lover
    Knuckle Draggers Hater

  30. LiveVegan

    That image is very distressing. One day people will look back on all forms of animal exploitation with horror

  31. Magg

    these people are sick–don’t they have anything better to do than hurt any animal like this.
    the small children in the audience are being desensitized and with everyone laughing and carrying on–children think this is ok to do.
    I will be haunted by this picture and by the reality that this goes on all the time .

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  34. Soldier of Good, NOT GOD!

    The only way to minimize or come close to stopping all type of animal cruelty is to fight Fire with Fire and what i mean is that Protests dont work, or work in ways we need them to. Violence is the only way. Its sad and true, but that is the only way so far. If there was another way, it would be God that would stop this, but it seems there is no God or a Loving God for that matter. I suggest that all these animal organizations like peta and alike pull their funds or should i say put a lot of their funds together and hire Specialists to do some Clandestine Wetwork. Nuff said. If you know what i mean.

  35. Get over yourself

    They were in no way hurt, they were picked up, and placed on a CUSHION in the middle. You are not allowed to grab or strangle the pig or hold its legs, throw it, nothing. They have some respect for an animal thats going to be slaughtered the next day, so all you pathetic animal rights activists, take a closer look at the pics, they HOLD the pig, the pig is solid, they aren’t easily going to hurt it. If you fall on it, your disqualified. Besides, if you don’t eat them, why are you worried about it? Are you people orange and green from all the vegetables you eat? Get over the PETA bs because if there was any animal cruelty involved, they would’ve been shut down years ago. Idiots! Why not whine about something of importance, like the lack of jobs and things that actually matter to you.

  36. ryan

    The fact you can use the phrase “They have some respect for an animal thats going to be slaughtered the next day” with a straight face shows how little you grasp the issue.

  37. Heather

    This issue really has nothing to do with the pigs going to slaughter, first of all. Every animal deserves to be treated humanely, no matter what their purpose is. That being said, these events really don’t hurt the animals. Judges are standing by to ensure that the pig is not harmed and if there is any sign of distress from the pig, the event is stopped and the teams are immediately disqualified. Also, anyone who has watched pigs know that they chase each other and wrestle and lay on top of each other all the time. Pigs are typically raised to 300 lbs, there aren’t many people in this contest who weigh that much that could hurt the pig.
    Secondly, animals who go to slaughter houses don’t just have their throats slit. The animals are immediately rendered senseless and don’t feel a thing. Each plant has several inspectors who ensure that the animals are not abused in any way… I have a friend is one of these inspectors and immediately shut down a plant for more than 8 hours because he saw a trucker slap a pig. Needless to say, that trucker did not come back to the plant.
    I am an animal agriculturist (livestock farmer) who has extensive experience with cattle, sheep and pigs, I can tell you all about the hours and care that go into these animals. At 2:00 AM, when you have a sick calf and you’re going to the barn in the middle of winter to feed it and take care of it, it doesn’t matter if its only going to be a hamburger. Animals are living, breathing things, and the people who participate in this contest understand that. Yes, they go to the slaughterhouse, but that is their purpose, just as we all have purposes in life, theirs is to feed and sustain us.

  38. ryan

    Yes, they go to the slaughterhouse, but that is their purpose, just as we all have purposes in life, theirs is to feed and sustain us.

    As decreed by whom, Heather?

    Their purpose isn’t to sustain us. Their purpose is simply to be what they are without the suffering or death we inflict upon them for our own amusement or taste.

  39. Jo

    I have been a vegetarian for 22 years and am also a 3 time champion of the Eldorado Hog wrestling. I have no problem participating in this event becasue no harm is being done to the pigs. I understand that the pigs do not have a choice, but how many people are beaten and even shot on a daily basis without a choice. I think there are larger issues to be worrying about rather than debating about whether the Eldorado Hog Wrestling is humane or not. I guarantee that at some point in everyones’ life they will have something done to them against there will for 60 seconds or less. The wrestling isn’t killing them and until pigs can talk or fly they really do not have a choice unfortunatley.

  40. ryan

    Jo — you’re suffering from some serious cognitive dissonance, whether you recognize it or not. I don’t see how people being beaten or shot has anything to do with your very conscious choice to wrestle animals that have no say in the matter. That would be like me walking up to you and punching you in the face while throwing my hands up and saying, “Oh well! People get hit by cars every day!”

    If you’re really vegetarian and it’s for ethical reasons, you’ll stop and think for a moment about what you’re doing and this stupid ass “sport” you’re supporting by your participation.

  41. Janelle

    Thank you for posting this. Hog wrestling is disgusting, and it bothers me so much. How would these people like to be put in a ring and have four people (or whatever) chasing them around. Talk about terrifying and disturbing. I have never seen an event firsthand, but my mother happened to be nearby one a few years ago. She told me the wrestling began, and somehow some VERY LARGE man fell on the pig the wrong way and broke his leg. He was squeeling in agony. They, of course, then “had to” put the pig down. Guess it reached it’s destiny earlier than expected and in a disgusting fashion. Ugh. This has all sparked thoughts in my head recently, as a girl I know (and strongly dislike) participated in a hog wrestling event last year. You should have seen her team! Three of the most obese women you could think of, and one average sized woman. She then posted her video online — proud as can be. It was something to see these large women chasing down this poor pig, slipping and sliding around in the mud. What makes people think this is entertaining?? It’s disgusting. All of it. I truly hope one day it will come to an end, but we can dream on, I’m sure.

  42. stacey

    honestly I love the catch a pig contest and we enter it every year at the fair here in wisconsin.. Its a blast and it brings so many people to come and watch. The pig is not in any harm..Us that are trying to catch it.. now thats a different story. Thank you for posting this story!! And i plan on continuing to do this every year at fair!!

  43. WANDA P.



  44. Gary

    Regardless of whether the pig is physically harmed in these “contests,” he is probably very terrified; he’s put into an unfamiliar, loud environment and is chased, apprehended, and lifted from the ground by four people. That in itself makes the event wrong and deserving of condemnation. Being mean to animals should not be fun.

    In addition, between the cheering crowd and the fact that it is a timed event, eventually injuries to the chased pig are inevitable, and in fact there have been reports of injuries. (Yes, humans may get injured, too, but unlike the pig they’re willingly participating in the spectacle and know beforehand what it is.)

    Aren’t we resourceful enough to think up fun and games that don’t involve harrassing or harming animals? If nothing else, let a human volunteer try to get away from the people chasing him or her. At least that way, everyone is a willing participant.

  45. Zach

    With all of the vitriol and superior attitudes, I am just surprised only one response is written in all caps. There are people all over the world being mistreated also, maybe you could spare them a little of your obviously superior time.

  46. ryan

    ‘Cause I’m sure you’re mister humanitarian yourself, there, Zach.

    (Hey, can I count this on my Defensive Omnivore Bingo card?)

  47. Lazurii

    Wait, Zach, you mean I can’t advocate for more than ONE cause at a time? Dang, we must be a horrible species at multi-tasking. And if you follow that train of logic it also means that when you’re considering the welfare of your family you can never consider the welfare of your friends, country, environment, pets, coworkers, etc. I’m sorry you’re so lonely.

    In my experience veg*ns are better at advocating for human rights than non-veg*ns. Call me crazy, but that’s how I call it.

  48. porker

    you guys are panzies, its sport for entertainment and the pig was going to be eaten any ways. think about it, if the pig was going to die why not have a little bit of fun with it. Also their wrestling it to the ground its not like theyre pulling a knife on it. so yeah screw you guys im going home…

  49. porkin it

    I agree with porker these pigs dont get harmed and theyre gonna be eaten any ways. I also gotta say i love bakon… Ima three time state pig wrestling champion and its frekaing fun taking them to the ground.

    p.s- you panzies need to grow a set.

  50. ryan

    Wow, didn’t realize it was that time of year already. I thought they didn’t let the idiots out of their cages until later in the spring.

  51. porker

    What gives you the idea your smarter then us? Honestly just because we have difrent views on the topic, you’re an idiot to think so.

    p.s. stop arguing for the sake of it, it’s kinda douchey.

  52. ryan

    No, “kinda douchey” is coming onto a site and calling people “panzies” or “idiots.”

    Never said I was smarter than anyone. But it goes beyond having “different views” — your views allow for exploiting animals for a pointless “sport.” Mine don’t.

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  54. southern gal

    aree you effin serious??? its an EFFIN hog! im perty sure that 400 pound mutha fcker can withstand bein put in a bucket for like what one minute??????!!!!! its gunna be on a dinner plate someday anyhow!

  55. hog

    I’m mostly concerned about how the pigs are going to deal with us when they get a few rungs higher on the evolutionary ladder. Maybe some pigs will start chasing us around for sport and certain other pigs will decry their actions as inhumane treatment of livestock. But in the mean time, we killed, clawed, built, and bled our way to the top of the food chain. May as well enjoy the view from up here.

  56. ryan

    The idiots that wind up here never cease to amaze me.

  57. Jen B

    This has to be the biggest group of uptight people on the internet.

  58. Emily

    I have pig wrestled for many years. Here’s how it is with out your PETA animal harm bullshit. I am a member of the FFA, show livestock at the State, County and World shows, the animals at the fairs are the BEST taken care of animals out there. We spend hundreds of thousands of hours with these animals over a show career. Same goes with the pigs we wrestle, the farmer raises his pigs that arent show quality that would be killed anyways for food for your lazy city slicking asses to eat and allows us to have good old fashion fun. Something apparently you guys dont know anything about. Think about this, with out Agriculture and the work of farmers and young people like myself you wouldnt have any of the things you have today you wouldn’t have food, nobody to grow it, you wouldn’t have clothes, no farmers no cotton, you wouldn’t have a home, no foresters no wood to build a house, no veterinarians, well good luck keeping Fido alive.

  59. ryan

    “show livestock at the State, County and World shows, the animals at the fairs are the BEST taken care of animals out there”

    If you’re wrestling animals and eventually killing them for meat, then I call bullshit. I could name quite a few places where the animals get much better care and live much better lives. They’re called “sanctuaries.”

  60. Jennifer Darlington

    For crying out loud…they are pigs!

  61. Gerk

    I do see the animal rights point of view, but honestly…I have not seen an injured pig in the last 5 years I have watched these events. Yes..the pigs will get a little wound up, maybe scared…but they are treated well. In the events I have seen, people are cautious on how they handle the pigs. None of the pigs are hurt. The wrestlers may get a little bruise or scrape sometimes. Its truly a harmless event. I love my bacon and respect any animal that was butchered so my family can eat. I to love animals, but understand the balance needed so we can survive. Thanks to all the hard working farmers across the country for doing their part to feed everyone.

  62. Burgundy Romskog

    Wanted to comment back to the P.E.T.A. PARTY about their totally off the wall views on how we country folk wrestle hogs for fun..”it’s cruel and inhumane for the pig”…(AS I SMILE AND TYPE)…that WILL most definitely be made into pork chops, tenderloins, side pork, sausage, BACON..and much…much… more….I am one of the PIG WRESTLERS and I LOVE animals!!! I have won both 3rd and 1st place in the women’s competition at the Eldorado Community Picnic over the past years and I have also been bitten by a big hog….that I was not going to be wrestled (still eaten though )and no one said,” WHAT A CRUEL PIG… TO TREAT A HUMAN LIKE THAT”. Hell, they’ll eat people… given a chance and do you think they stop and talk it over with each other before devouring a human…I THINK NOT! These animals live very luxurious lives compared to some humans.. free food, home, health care.. until we HUMANS need to eat. They have a purpose. They are called LIVESTOCK for a reason…wrestling for my dinner is just a bonus! The man upstairs says to be kind to all and that is what happens at these events.. we treat them as humanely possible for a PIG. They entertain us and feed us and for that …I AM THANKFUL. But for the overzealous PETA ppl.. be my guest… pet it up!…bring one into the house! …treat it like a dog! …or your own child… Whatever floats your boat! MY PIG IS FOR WRESTLING AND EATING!… You do what you want with yours! GOOD DAY!

  63. ryan

    “These animals live very luxurious lives compared to some humans.. free food, home, health care.. until we HUMANS need to eat.”


    C’mon now. For real, though.

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