A HAMPSHIRE festival has pulled plans to host pig racing later this month following a petition that gained more than 46,000 signatures.

Following talks, organisers at the Winchester Cheese and Chilli Festival have axed the races – and have also confirmed they won’t be included next year.

It follows criticism from angry campaigners who were left cheesed off with the event, due to take place at the Garrison Ground on August 18-19, claiming that the animals would be left frightened by the crowds and could suffer as a result of the current heatwave.

In response, Simon Stewart, from the festival, told the Chronicle: “Through liaising with the RSPCA, the local authority and the operator, as the hot weather is going to continue, we have decided that it’s in the pigs’ interest to withdraw pig racing from the event this year. 

“We will not be offering pig racing again next year either.

“The operator is Joseph’s Amazing Camels who I’m sure can comment on how well the animals are cared for throughout the year.”
The move had been met with joy by campaign group Pigs Don’t Race, who launched the petition that labelled animal racing as “cruel and exploitative”.

In a post on their Facebook page, a spokesman said: “Success! The pig race at the Cheese and Chilli Festival in Winchester has been cancelled! Thank you to everyone who signed and shared the petition.”

The Winchester festival is just one of the events to have been targeted by the group, with the Facebook page featuring campaigns from around the country.

Among those to have signed the petition was Winchester resident Janet Pearce, who said she was “appalled to find that the organisers of this ‘foodie’ event feel the need to include pig racing”, adding: “This is the 21st century for goodness sake! Let’s have some respect for our fellow creatures!”

Taking place between 10am and 5pm, events at the Cheese and Chilli Festival will range from ‘Man v Food’ competitions and cooking demonstrations to live music and face painting.

Winchester marks the last stop for the event, which has been touring since early June.