Protesters Pan Chicken-Plucking Contest Winningly!

"For the Veterans of Foreign Wars to make a silly game out of pulling feathers from the pathetic bodies of these birds should be an embarrassment to men who have seen, first hand, the killing and cruelty of war."
Joan Jenrich, Letter to VFW, Oct. 8, 1995

"We don't need people coming from out of town to protest. We want them coming in from out of town to enjoy the festivities."
Tony Mosca Jr., VFW post adjutant, Oct. 31, 1995

Spring Hill, FL--On Saturday, October 7, The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida demonstrated successfully outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 in protest of a chicken-plucking contest that was being defended as a "25-year tradition." The Spring Hill Chicken Plucking Festival that started as a promotional gimmick to market a housing community later became a VFW Post 10209 annual fundraiser. The point of the contest, which had dwindling audiences, was to see who could "strip the most feathers off a steaming bird in 20 seconds" for a trophy. One hundred live chickens, trucked in from a farm, sat in cages under a tent waiting for "experienced handlers" to "just grab them by the neck and swing them around and strangle them, just like a hunter does."

"Such a frivolous waste of life sends audience members a strong message that killing animals and making a mockery of their life is acceptable if it is found amusing," said the News Release published by The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida before the festival. "I'm very angry about this," said Louise Kahle, in the St. Petersburg Times on Oct. 8th. "This event is violent and desensitizes murder. There are other ways to raise money," she told the newspaper.

The News Release criticized the irresponsible, uncreative, mindless, useless, and cruel lesson being taught to children and others. It declared that "the very desensitization which accompanies the chicken-plucking contest is one of the primary causes of today's excessive predisposition toward violent and aggressive behavior."

The protesters' pluck paid off. On October 31, the St. Petersburg Times announced "Hernando VFW to scratch its chicken-plucking event." The article said that the "Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 has decided it no longer can justify plucking chicken feathers for entertainment. ... Members of the VFW post voted last week to put an end to the plucking. The post will continue to sponsor a festival of some sort, though it has not been decided what to call it. ... Also, there has been no decision on whether the festival will continue to feature the Ms. Drumstick competition, in which women and adolescent girls wear burlap bags and are judged on the shapeliness of their legs."

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