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Urban rodeo part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations causing a stir

Click to play video 'Animal rights groups protest Montreal Rodeofest' Animal rights groups protest Montreal Rodeofest
WATCH ABOVE: Montreal’s anti-calèche defense coalition is protesting against what they call animal cruelty at the city’s Rodeofest. Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports.

Cowboys and cowgirls are coming to the Old Port in August but not everyone is happy about the urban rodeo that’s part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations.

NomadFest promises a true cowboy experience.

It’s being billed as a cultural event part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary but animal activists disagree.

“Rodeos have a number of issues animals are subject to stress, fear, anxiety,” Alanna Devine with the Montreal SPCA said.

The SPCA is encouraging concerned people to write to the mayor.

By Friday night, its Facebook post had been shared over 2,000 times.

“Obviously we do have a position against entertainment using animals that risks compromising the welfare of animals so we felt it very necessary to put a statement on that.”

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READ MORE: Spotted: a horseless calèche making the rounds of Montreal’s Old Port

Members of the Anti-Caleche Defense Coalition agreed.

In an email to Global News they said:

“We’re planning a strategized campaign to have the live animal events removed from NomadFest.”

Organizers of NomadFest think rodeos are misunderstood.

The same people are also behind the popular St. Tite Country Festival.

READ MORE: Protesters demand Montreal ban calèche horses

They believe events like these can help Montrealers appreciate their cultural significance.

“Rodeos and horses are part of our culture and heritage. Just remember that Buffalo Bill came to Montreal in the 1800s,” said NomadFest’s producer Maxime Lefebvre.

“Rodeos have changed a lot for the last 100 years and actually horses and bulls are athletes for us,” Lefebvre explained.

“When we work something, a beast that’s worth more between $2,000 and $50,000 you won’t hurt that beast, you will cherish that beast.”

Lefebvre insisted they have a protocol in place to ensure the “right treatment of animals” and said a veterinarian is always on site.

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In a press conference mayor Denis Coderre defended the festival saying organizers are respectful and passionate about horses and that he won’t cancel the event.