You know, I'm not sure if I even remember when I first went...I'm 37 now, and it was when I was pretty danged young. I don't even remember if there were animal rides when we went.
Which is one of the reasons I was so bummed about the whole elephant thing - we were so excited until we saw that. Crushed! I was so looking forward to showing my fella and deprived friends what big Ren Fests are all about :(
It really sucks that you aren't going to go over the elephants. But I understand some people follow their believes whole-heartedly. People don't understand why I don't eat lettuce/watermelon. And that's for religious reasons. I get crap like "Wtf what religon don't let you eat THOSE?" I get jabs from my grandma Alllll the time about how I'll never loose weight if I don't eat lettuce. *snerk* ;)
I do admire your dedication to your beliefs. :D
I wonder why they even have the animal rides. :| It seems so boring to me. And stinky.
Plus we have a stream that is lovingly known to the performers as 'Elephant Piss Creek'.
I'm all for people standing up for what you believe in. If you are uncomfortable with Elephants being used as rides, you have every right to not support that in any way you deem necessary.
What I'm reading here is that people would like to understand your stance better. I'm interested as well, mainly because I like knowing -why- people believe what they believe. It will probably make absolute sense to the rest of us as well, then...well...we might be able to do something about it.
We used to have animal 'performers'. We had cast members that walked with goats and baby pigs and chickens n stuff. That was thrown out almost 10 years ago. I'm not quite sure why we quit that. It could have been a health issue, customer complaint, or a tasty lunch for the birds of prey we have flying out there. But, if this is something you really believe in, there are those of us in a position that -may- be able to voice your opinions to the proper people and be able to change it. We may not.
I believe it was a combination of all of those matters- licensing issues, customer complaints (I think a goat bit someone while trying to eat their shirt or something like that), and the tightening up from free-form improv street acting to scripted shows (thankfully we're starting to see some of the improve come back) that caused the loss of some of those characters.
As for the elephant issue, I live just down HWY 105 from where they are kept, and as has been stated they live in very good conditions and are not abused. IIRC, they are rescued elephants, though I am fuzzy on the details. The man who runs the program can be rabidly overprotective of them (I remember him screaming and cussing like a madman at our truck because we were passing the elephants at 10 mph back behind Sherwood- well below the posted speed limit- because we were within fifty yards of his elephants), and I- an elephant-lover meself- have never seen anything I would consider abuse. Do I like the idea of the rides? Not particularly, but I've seen elephants used in the place of bulldozers in India, and good GODS don't get me started on circuses, but I don't see anything there that I would call abuse.
So, if your issue is a concern that they are being abused, I think you should be relieved to know that it does not appear to be the case. If your issue is the principle of the thing, of elephants being used for labor or for rides, then that's fine, it's a matter of principle and you'll have to find another faire to go to.