'Kind of jaw-dropping': SPCA asking Montreal to drop rodeo plans

The Montreal SPCA is none too impressed with the city's decision to feature a rodeo as part of its 375th anniversary plans.

Nomadfest Urban Rodeo is part of country festival to take place in August for 375th anniversary

In August, Montreal will hold a country festival complete with a rodeo, organized by the same people who put on a similar event in Saint-Tite, Que., for the city's 375th anniversary. (Michelle Raza/Radio-Canada)

The director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCAAlanna Devine, says she was "flabbergasted" to learn that a rodeo will be part of Montreal's 375th anniversary plans.

The NomadFest Urban Rodeo is billed as a "country festival in the city that lets people connect with their inner cowboy."  It's slated to take place in August, according to the official website for Montreal's birthday celebrations.

The plan is to hold four rodeos in a show ring at the Old Port, featuring professional rodeo athletes competing in riding, speed and agility contests.

On its Facebook page, the SPCA called the decision appalling, saying rodeo events "subject animals to unnecessary stress and suffering solely for the purpose of so-called 'entertainment.'"

Devine said she believes Montrealers will be upset when they learn about the event.

"It's kind of jaw-dropping. It has nothing to do with the 375th anniversary of the City of Montreal. We have no understanding whatsoever of why this would be taking place in conjunction with a celebration of our city," she said.

The SPCA is asking citizens to contact the mayor directly through the city's website if they want to voice their displeasure with the rodeo.

"Hopefully it's not too late to convince them to not move forward with something that clearly is completely unnecessary and involves the suffering, both physical and psychological, of animals." 

Animals cherished, organizer says

Event company TKNL Productions is producing the country festival in partnership with the organizers of the Festival Western Saint-Tite, an annual event held for the past 50 years in the town north of Trois-Rivières.

Along with the rodeo, the event will feature a western-style village with activities and shows.

Producer Maxime Lefebvre said he and his team love the animals and are also against animal cruelty.

He said the bulls don't work more than 80 seconds in a summer – participating in 10 rodeos, for about eight seconds each time.

"For the rest of the summer, they will be fed and we will take care of them, even cherish, I would say, those animals," he said.
RC Landingham, of Hat Creek, California, competes in the bareback event during rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alta. The SPCA is denouncing the city's decision to hold a rodeo in Montreal this summer. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )

He said there will be veterinarians on site following the animals, and all involved must follow an emergency protocol used at the Saint-Tite festival.

He said rodeo is a part of Quebec and Canadian culture. According to him, there are 80 country festivals every year in Quebec.

In a news release issued in November, both Mayor Denis Coderre and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux, who is also minister responsible for the Montreal region, lent their support to the event.

"Country is part of the fabric of our history and of popular culture," Coderre said.

with files from Lauren McCallum