The crowd was about half the size of previous rodeos.
Protestors picketed the entrance of the Warkworth Rodeo this month, but that didn’t deter about 1800 people attending the event at Warkworth Showgrounds.
The rodeo was held on February 6 after the event was rained off on New Year’s Day.
Warkworth Rodeo Club secretary Krista Fletcher said the crowd was about half the size of normal, which she put down to competition from other events in the region and fewer holidaymakers.
“It was a bit disappointing, but it was still a great day,” Krista said. “There were no injuries to stock, but there was the odd injury to the cowboys.”
Only two of the 21 competitors managed to stay on their bull and take home a cash prize, as the animals proved particularly virulent.
“The judge said they were some of the best bulls he’s seen in a long time.”
Krista said she doubted the protestors had an impact on numbers.
About 50 protestors crowded the entrance to the Showgrounds, waving signs to passing traffic on State Highway One. That’s up from about 40 protestors who gathered in the rain when the event was postponed on New Year’s Day.
Animal advocacy organisation SAFE urged the public to boycott the event and called on Auckland Council to ban the event. A SAFE petition to ban rodeos in NZ has over 42,000 signatures, an increase of 12,000 since the start of the year.
Auckland animal rights group Direct Animal Action spokesperson Kathleen Lafferty said public support for the protest was heartening.
“We had so many toots of support from people driving by. I wasn’t expecting that. A lot of people were giving us the thumbs up,” Ms Lafferty said. “I feel the public is a lot more aware of what goes on at rodeos now. Kiwis don’t like animal cruelty.”
Protestors also received the “odd remark” from rodeo-goers.
The SPCA has also called for a ban on rodeos in New Zealand, she says. Krista confirmed an SPCA member visited the rodeo and was “more than happy with animal welfare” after speaking to vet Ross Lynch, who attended the event, along with an ambulance.