To the editor:
The Great Barrington Agricultural Fair was once a family outing of rides, games, and food. Farmers competed for ribbons with their best animals, canned fruits and vegetables, and crafts. Until declining attendance ended it all in 1983, there was also horse racing. A last push to bring back the waning racing industry in 1997 ended after the 1998 season.
I remember that year only too well. At a Berkshire Advocates for Animals meeting, we were contacted by people protesting the racing and desperate to save horses who were abandoned at the track because they lost. I know of two horses who were adopted but the others disappeared. Losers went to slaughter and it’s the same now. Thousands are trucked to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico every year for their “meat.” Racehorses are bred to make money or die.
To maximize profits, they are raced too young causing immature bones and ligaments to break. They are medicated to race when sick or injured. And when they break down in training, in races, in their stalls, and during transit, they are killed.
Now we find that there are bills pending (S.101 and H.13) in the Massachusetts Legislature that would once again allow racing at the former Great Barrington Fairgrounds based on old permits from 1997. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission would be calling the shots and the townspeople would have no vote.
A return of horse racing to Great Barrington would bring gambling elements, snarled traffic, environmental damage, and the cruel use of horses back to that wonderful town. Far from being an economic boon, it would cause added burdens and a cultural nightmare.
It must not happen! Tell the GB Select Board (413-528-1619, ext.2) and your state legislators (GB Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, 413-637-0631 and Sen. Adam Hinds, 413-722-1625) to stop these bills now.