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UPDATE: PETA now calling for cancellation of Outagamie County church’s “pig rassle” event this weekend

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OUTAGAMIE COUNTY (WITI) -- An Outagamie County church is drawing ire by those opposed to its plans to again have pig wrestling at its church picnic Sunday. And now, we're learning PETA is urging the church to cancel the event.

Bleachers are out and the fences are up...and St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville, Wisconsin is gearing up for the event this weekend -- but controversy is growing.

The pig wrestling venue is in place behind St. Patrick Parish for the annual roundup event.

"It's been going on for over 40 years -- and it's our annual festival and fundraiser combined," Ken Bilgrien with St. Patrick Parish said.

But before people take their places in the stands - or in the ring, animal activists are working to cancel what they call an animal fighting contest.

"Pigs are commonly punched in the face, kicked or body slammed to try and get in the barrel because the goal of this event is to try and get a pig," Global Conservation Group President Jordan Turner said.

Event organizers say Turner's claims aren't true.

"Absolutely not. Absolutely, totally wrong. They aren't put in a bucket. They aren't put in anything. They are not punched, kicked," Bilgrien said.

During the event, groups of around five to six people will get inside the ring. Organizers size a pig accordingly.

As you can see in the YouTube video of last year's event - people race around a muddy ring trying to catch a pig.

"These young girls that end up face down in the mud -- I swear the pigs stopped and turned around and laughed at them, so it's a fun event and really, we think the pigs enjoy it," Bilgrien said.

Turner disagrees, and has started a petition reaching around 25,000 signatures to get organizers to cancel the event. He says it's not just inhumane - it's illegal.

"In our interpretation of the law, absolutely," Turner said.

Sheriff's officials say nothing illegal has happened at the event in the past, and if it continues to be run the same way - they don't anticipate any future problems.

"A small group has put a lot of fear in good people," Bilgrien said.

As word about the event and the alleged treatment of the pigs spreads, the church is concerned about potential misconceptions.

"I don't want them out there worrying about abused animals -- because it's not happening," Bilgrien said.

The event, which organizers say brings in about $3,000, has been canceled in the past.

Protests by PETA halted the roundup for two years in the early 90s.

Bilgrien says safety comes first and no people or animals have ever been seriously injured during the event.


On Friday, August 8th, we learned PETA's Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement has sent a letter to Bilgrien regarding this weekend's event.

A statement submitted to FOX6 News reads as follows:

Kind people across the country are urging the Hortonville-based St. Patrick Parish–Stephensville to cancel the "Pig Rassle" planned as part of its 44th Annual Roundup Days this weekend—and PETA Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement Sarah Withrow King is among them. 

In an urgent letter sent this morning to Deacon Ken Bilgrien, the pastoral coordinator of the church, King points out that chasing, grabbing, and tackling pigs and then slamming them onto overturned barrel drums—can result in leaving them with injuries so severe that they must be killed immediately to end their suffering—is not only cruel but also goes directly against Jesus' teachings of love and compassion. 

"Just like the cats and dogs with whom we share our homes, pigs are created by God, who has charged humans with the care and stewardship of all creation," writes King. "Forcing God's creatures through this violent and frantic ordeal represents neither careful stewardship nor loving dominion." 

PETA, whose motto reads, in part, "Animals are not ours to abuse in any way," suggests replacing pig wrestling with an event that everyone can enjoy, such as a human wrestling contest or a muddy footrace.

The letter sent to Bilgrien by PETA's Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement reads as follows:

Dear Deacon Bilgrien, 

I am the director of Christian outreach and engagement with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and am writing on behalf of our more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide. More importantly, I’m writing as a fellow follower of Jesus to urge you to cancel the “Pig Rassle” scheduled to take place during the 44th Annual Roundup Days this weekend. 

We learned from Jesus that just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily make it right. While Wisconsin’s anti-cruelty laws prohibit treating any animal in a cruel manner or allowing a fight between an animal and a person, my appeal to you is based not on the law but on compassion. 

Just like the cats and dogs with whom we share our homes, pigs are created by God, who has charged humans with the care and stewardship of all creation. Please imagine how traumatic it is for a pig to be chased, grabbed, and tackled by participants and then crammed into barrel drums—all while trapped in a pen lined with shouting crowds and with no means of escape or defense. The very nature of these events is inhumane—the pigs are not willing participants. They often sustain severe injuries, such as broken limbs or backs, and must be killed immediately to end their suffering. 

Forcing God’s creatures through this violent and frantic ordeal represents neither careful stewardship nor loving dominion. There are many other activities scheduled as part of the weekend festivities. Will you please cancel the pig wrestling and replace it with a humane alternative? You could hold a wrestling contest or a muddy footrace with willing human participants. And if you’d truly like to reflect the love of Jesus and emulate the example he set for us, you could go so far as to invite the pigs to join you for dinner—as honored guests, of course. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter. May I hear back from you today? 

Grace and peace, 

Sarah Withrow King

Director of Christian Outreach and Engagement - PETA

CLICK HERE to learn more about St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville.


  • Mary Finelli

    “CLICK HERE to learn more about St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville.” Why would anyone want to learn more about it? This atrocity speaks volumes and should be reason enough for any decent, compassionate person to not want anything to do with ST. Patrick’s. It is a disgusting disgrace and antithetical to what a religious institution should be about.

  • Helena

    Why don’t they just let the girls wrestle each other? That’s apparently what the crowd wants to see anyway. Wholesome Christian entertainment, well done…

  • Chris Multerer

    In 1978, I wrestled Victor, a 600 lb black bear at the Milwaukee Sentinel Sport Show. I pinned Victor, and was the only one ever, to do so. Rules were so restrictive, that you could not hurt Victor. Ironically, that was the last year Victor appeared. Wonder who cried about that ?

    • Louise

      The only video from the church is the girls, the pictures show grown boys/young men. On their website the pictures are all of boys and men. I don’t trust Faux news either, but this one they got right and am glad they put it out there. The poll is overwhelmingly against this activity.

    • Robin Of The West

      Let me get this right, you wrestled and pinned a 600 lb bear – which was enormously stronger than you ? Why am I having a difficult time believing this was a fair fight ? BTW – Did you have Victor’s written permission as a participant ?You just don’t get it at all do you ?

  • Sandy Russell

    “we think the pigs enjoy it,” Bilgrien said”. Really and you would know this how, you can speak to the pigs and ask them?
    This event is totally inhumane and there is nothing about it that shows Christianity.
    Karma works in mysterious ways, keep that in mind.

    • Norma Witter

      From the squealing…he must think that is like when you scare little kids and they run squealing and laughing…the pigs AREN’T laughing! The squealing notates FEAR!!! SMH, this is sad…the pigs get scaared to death by people than off to market! ugh!

  • Louise Dickinson

    apparently, ” women like being ganged raped and beaten up” too , apparently , say the monsters who inflict pain on them … I am sure this is what these people would say.
    To have no empathy and respect for life is very sad . For a so called wakey perverted american church to promote this in the name of Jesus is insulting to my religion , that has been in my country for 2,000 years . Corrupted by these weirdos, in only 200 years … who actually think it is ok the damage and mutilate others for their enjoyment and vanity … Sorry , but, you are making your country look like savages and no better than the Taliban , who do equally wicked things to living creatures .

  • kenleekauthor

    I work with pigs and I can definitely tell you that pigs don’t like being picked up or restrained. All you have to do is go through the process of trimming their hooves to find that out. They scream so loud that every animal at the ranch stops what they’re doing to see what’s going on.

  • Richard Hoyle

    As the director of a pig sanctuary for over 20 years, I can guarantee that the pigs do not enjoy things like this. They will be highly stressed and terribly scared. Pigs do not like to be chased, confined or restrained. As a Catholic I am ashamed that this Catholic parish is holding an event like this. As a sanctuary director and a pig advocate, I am horrified that this type of abuse is condoned by the church.

  • chris multerer

    Robin of the West..Actually I do get it..Peta will do whatever they can to make up lies, like kicking and punching the pigs.There is no way on earth that this will be allowed. It’s all in in fun.If anyone that gets hurt, it’s the people participating. You don’t get it !! BTW, I was much stronger and out wrestled the bear. I bet that most of the posts here are Pro-choice. That, is inhumane.

    • Skoobie Doo

      Yes, once again let’s bring up abortion. Guess what? I am against abortion and not a member of PETA. What I am is a Republican and frankly an embarrassed Catholic. And BTW…keep kidding yourself about being stronger than the bear if it makes you feel like a man.

  • sooky sooky sue

    it is a freakin pig with about as much brains as the peta uber lefty liberals! i bet it would rather be chased around than sent to the abattoir!

      • Mary Finelli

        Pigs are said to be more intelligent than dogs. Would you approve of abusing dogs that way?
        It doesn’t matter how intelligent they are. What matters is how sensitive they are. Pigs are also very sensitive. Anyone who approves of terrorizing and assaulting an animal like that has the sensitivity of an ogre.

    • Skoobie Doo

      Actually, pigs are the fourth smartest after dolphins and whales and probably some people posting on here but they shall remain anonymous. As an fyi, these pigs will be going to market come Monday morn because they cannot return to the farm to limit spread of disease. Perhaps you would know that if you checked your facts. But then I always fact check because i am one smart Republican…not liberal! Don’t group people cause it shows your ignorance.

    • Trillian

      Actually, Pigs are very intelligent and caring animals. They care about their babies and cry when they’re separated from them. Don’t believe me? Do some actual Research before you make claims that have No basis in Reality, SookySooky. Pigs are very much like dogs. And physically they ALL have central nervous systems and Feel THE SAME PAIN THAT WE HUMANS DO. So punching them and abusing them cruelly inflicts THE SAME PAIN on Them as it would on YOU.
      Oh and by the way….all 37 of these pigs were brutally slaughtered after they were brutally and cruelly ABUSED in this disgusting event. I’m not a PETA member, but I do have a brain, and a Heart.

    • James

      You are just as ignorant as these people chasing a pig! EVOLVE like the rest of us and stop acting like a neanderthal. $3000 dollars raised at what price…….. your dignity and respect. Rather then raising money thru other means you change choose to look like an idiot for a small donation. Typical Catholics stuck in tradition!!

  • whitcoll

    What kind of church deacons and youth group leaders would subject girls and boys to such a filthy, awkward and humiliating little annual “roundup” game. Looks like some perverts are enjoying a bit of underage mud wrestling, wonder if they make the kids participate in slaughtering, butchering and cooking the pig barbeque and waiting on tables for the church roast pig supper. Remember what Jesus said about children, you might be hanging your own milestone around your own necks.

  • Mary tithof

    Seriously. ..the pigs are enjoying this? Are you all that stupid? Oh and good show the smaller females in a video. Post one with men. Double dog dare you. Not humane…actually terrifying to the pig.

  • Theodore Towler

    I love pork chops, bacon, ham. Do you think these pigs are going to be kept as pets? They are going to be eaten! Why not have let a church make some money before the pigs are butchered.
    You PETA people need to worry about bigger things, like people killing peopl!

    • Mary Finelli

      Most dogs and cats in shelters are going to be killed there for lack of good homes.. Some people would enjoy using them for target practice. According to your warped way of thinking we should let them have their ‘fun’. How about doing the same with prisoners on death row? The money could be donated to charity.

      There is no “bigger” thing to concern one’s self with than opposing intentional cruelty to others. There is no valid justification for it. The pigs shouldn’t be going to slaughter, either, which is institutionalized animal cruelty. Your love of consuming pig corpses supports horrendous animal abuse.

    • Skoobie Doo

      Frankly Theodore, not everyone on here is a supporter of PETA. Some just have compassion which I can’t say you do. A suggestion, perhaps cutting down on some of that bacon, ham, and pork chops might unclog your arteries and open your heart. Oh, and news flash, many of those that murder people actually start off with torturing animals. Peace out!

    • howie

      Maybe we should be allied to beat terminally ill children after all they’re going to die anyway so it doesn’t matter how we treat them when they’re alive

  • Silly rabbits

    Love it! I’ll be there! Can i tackle a pig too for a small fee? I’d love to P.O the Peta lovers :)

    • Skoobie Doo

      When you ASSUME…well, you know the rest. There are many people against this who have nothing to do with PETA. Perhaps we can gather all of those who seem to be gung ho and throw them in the pig pen and rassle each other. Now, I’d pay for that! Hee Haw!!! A Redneck Rassle Y’all!

  • Brian D

    St Patrick needs to start reading the Bible a bit…

    Proverbs 12:10:
    “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, the the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.”

    When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner. At the time that God gave mankind dominion over the animals, humans did not eat meat (Genesis 1:29). Eating meat did not begin until after the Flood (Genesis 9:1-3), and it was at that time that animals started to fear humans. However, although God changed the way we interact with animals, in that they are now “meat,” we still bear a responsibility to care for or treat animals humanely. Human “rule” over animals does not mean we have the right to mistreat or misuse those animals.

    Read more:

    • Colleen

      God did not change the way we interact with animals, humans changed the way we interact with animals, remember
      God gave us freedom of choice. God doesn’t DO anything but Love!!!! Until we as humans realize that we have the freedom of choice at every given moment, and that starts with the choice of our thoughts, and we choose to take the path of good instead of evil, then we aren’t spreading God’s Love.

  • Noel Luna

    Do the pigs get a choice to play or not and have to sign a waiver in case they get hurt so the church is not held responsible for there injuries?

  • Callie

    This is sick, and yes, seriously abusive!!!! Absolutely shocked beyond words!!!!
    By the way, I do not support PETA. Get it through your head, all who love and care about others are not a member of that organization!

  • Jan Fredericks

    Clearly they don’t seem to know the Bible or care about what God thinks about our treatment of His animals. Someday we will be held accountable. Sad that the church leaders don’t say anything or care. The way we treat God’s animals affects and reflects our relationship with God. This is not evangelism — we are to do everything for the glory of God according to St. Paul. Animals were made by God and FOR God as Scripture states in Col. 1. ‘All of creation is groaning in labor pains waiting for the revelation of the children of God…hoping to be set free from slavery to corruption’ (see Romans 8:19-22). Jan, Founder, GCM and a Catholic convert

  • Heather Lutterotti

    No words can describe the disgust I feel for this church goers who approve of such cruel and inhumane practices,
    deliberately hurting this poor animals und thinking it is fun to see the terror and hear their crying out in pain, it almost makes me ashamed to be of the same race as this people claiming to be human and Christian.
    ST. Patrick’ s where is you humanity , what are you teaching your children? You would never be allowed to go near my own or any ones I know

  • James

    You are just as ignorant as these people chasing a pig! EVOLVE like the rest of us and stop acting like a neanderthal. $3000 dollars raised at what price…….. your dignity and respect. Rather then raising money thru other means you change choose to look like an idiot for a small donation. Typical Catholics stuck in tradition!!

  • James

    EVOLVE like the rest of us and stop acting like a neanderthal. $3000 dollars raised at what price…….. your dignity and respect. Rather then raising money thru other means you change choose to look like an idiot for a small donation. Typical Catholics stuck in tradition!!

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