Snapping Turtle
Snapperfest is no festival for the snapping turtle. Image: ScottLarsen/Flickr/CC BY-SA

On Saturday, the 13th annual Snapperfest will be held in Ohio County, Indiana. The controversial event involves physically traumatizing snapping turtles until a contestant’s fist can be closed around the turtle’s neck.

An annual event

The annual event takes place at Campshore Campgrounds and is scheduled to be held again on Saturday, August 20.

PETA condemns the festival

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has tried unsuccessfully to stop the event in the past. From PETA’s website:

“The frightened animals are grabbed by their tails and repeatedly slammed to the ground. Their heads are yanked from their shells, and they are then swung around until ‘contestants’ are able to wrap their fists around the animals’ necks.”

Organizers say it is all in good fun

The event draws huge crowds of families, including children. The organizers defend the event, saying it is all in good fun and that the turtles are unharmed.

One of the organizers of the event said on a local radio interview recently that participants in the event “do not kill the turtles. They are caught by hand. You can’t pull the head off a turtle.”

PETA disagrees:

“In addition to terrifying these reptiles, these attacks can result in serious injury and fatal stress—and death comes slowly for turtles because of their slow metabolism. Survivors are likely subjected to slaughter or release into unfamiliar areas, only to succumb to parasites or disease.”

A game animal

The snapping turtle is a game animal in Indiana. The meat is used to make soups and stews.

Police powerless

Bryan Field, the police chief in nearby Aurora, Ind., has received many complaints about Snapperfest, but insists he is unable to do anything about it. The event occurs outside of the Aurora Police Department’s jurisdiction.

PETA urges the public to speak up and put pressure on the organizers to put an end to the festival. A number of contacts in the region are listed on the organization’s website.


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