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Hundreds attend Valley West Stampede in Langley, including activists

Click to play video: 'Return of Valley West Stampede in Langley'
Return of Valley West Stampede in Langley
Hundreds jammed into a corner of Langley Township to catch the second annual Valley West Stampede. It claims to be better and more community-oriented than a regular rodeo. Yet as Julia Foy reports, a small group of animal rights protesters disagree. – Sep 2, 2023

Hundreds of spectators turned out for Langley, B.C.,’s only pro rodeo, the second annual Valley West Stampede, on Saturday.

The three-day rodeo has doubled its capacity and features live music and food and alcohol vendors on top of the usual rodeo events. Organizers said the turnout this year has been great.

“(We) sold lots of tickets online. I don’t have exact numbers, but going up regularly every day, especially this (past) week. We’re getting lots of community support (through) huge word of mouth,” said Rich Kitos chairman of Valley West Stampede.

The big rodeo events, bull riding and bronco riding, garner the most attention — and from not just attendees, but also a small group of activists who parked out front.

“We’re here to express our opposition to using animals for entertainment,” said Paul Fader, an animal activist.

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“We think it’s morally unjustifiable to use animals in this way.”

Click to play video: 'Small protest greets return of Cloverdale Rodeo'
Small protest greets return of Cloverdale Rodeo

The rodeo’s president, Sheila Hicks, said the event is not harmful to the animals.

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“The athletes, the horses and the bulls here are specifically bred for this, and their success is our success,” she told Global News.

“We want everyone happy and healthy. That’s how we make this rodeo life evolve and how we keep our traditions and values alive.”

However, Fader said the animals’ actions say otherwise.

“They attach a device to the waist of the animal that applies pressure to the soft underbelly of the animal which causes fear and discomfort,” Fader told Global News outside the rodeo.

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“That’s why they’re bucking in the first place — they want them to get off of them.”

Click to play video: 'New details about the professional rodeo coming to Langley in September'
New details about the professional rodeo coming to Langley in September

The animal activists are not alone as a research company poll shows that a majority of Canadians do not support animals being used for entertainment like zoos and rodeos.

The poll, conducted by Research Co., showed just over two-thirds of Canadians are against the use of animals in rodeos.

Since 2019, the proportion of Canadians who approve of the use of animals in rodeos has fallen by 10 points,” said Mario Canseco, Research Co.’s president.

“Majorities of women (73 per cent) and men (59 per cent) are currently opposed to this type of entertainment.”

The Valley West Stampede has moved away from all roping events and only has riding events.

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