Pigs at the Fair are as American as Apple Pie and Chevy...er...Toyota, but this year things are a little different.
This year's Caledonia County Fair in Vermont will be pigless. That's right, no baby pig chases and no piglets in the children's barnyard. The oldest fair in Vermont is sans swine because fair officials are fearful that fair goers who contract swine flu would blame the fair and file lawsuits. Although the Swine Flu Virus/H1N1 Virus is spread almost exclusively to humans from other humans, the Fair's directors looked in their crystal ball and saw nothing but cloudy skies, bad publicity and fair money flying out the window on the horizon.
The Caledonia County Fair is one of the few fairs to enact this policy. Most fairs nationwide are going to great lengths to protect THE PIGS. They are urging fair goers to wash their hands before they touch the little piggies in the petting zoos, and one State Fair is going one step further...
When the Oregon State Fair opened in Salem on Friday, visitors confronted pig barriers, recommended by the state veterinarian.
"Our pigs aren't sick, are you?" say signs that will be posted at the fair. "If you're not feeling well, don't visit the pigs."
North Carolina, the nation's second-largest hog-producing state behind Iowa, is going one step further, installing wooden barriers around the sow and piglet pens at its upcoming state fair in Raleigh and the North Carolina Mountain Fair in Fletcher. That will keep people at least three feet away from the pigs, out of humans' reach and sneezing range. Signs will also direct fair goers to stay out of livestock barns if they're sick or have been sick in the last seven days.
Calling the virus "swine flu" has led to confusion, according to USDA spokeswoman Chris Mather. Flu experts say people cannot get H1N1 from handling pork.
The National Pork Board has developed kits for fairs with signs urging fair goers to wash hands and not to touch pigs.
"We do worry about any misconception that people may have that would think they have anything to fear from the pigs themselves," said Liz Wagstrom, a veterinarian with the National Pork Board.
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