Mickey Starling: Greene Publishing, Inc.
The fireworks shows may have been canceled over the Fourth of July weekend, but there were plenty of fireworks of a different nature occurring over at the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Campground. As part of their traditional Fourth of July celebrations, the campground continued a tradition that has been enjoyed for over twenty years, which was a mud pig scramble.
Everything seemed to continue as normal until photos of the event were posted on Facebook. Hundreds of complaints of animal cruelty and barbaric behavior poured in to the site and at least three reservations were canceled due to the posts. Complaints made their way to the Jellystone corporate office, which has since discontinued their franchise with the campground's owners, Jimmy and Latrelle Ragans, who are now working on renaming the park.
The Ragans had initially downplayed the event's controversy and encouraged people to post pictures of the fun they were having. Much of the uproar seems to be generated from people outside of the Madison community, where pig scrambles have been enjoyed for years. The North Florida Livestock Show and Sale routinely has a scramble as part of their yearly festivities and has never had any issues arise from it. Madison resident Tiffany Register expressed sentiments that many of the locals would agree with. "Playing with pigs is fun," said Register. "I enjoy it, everybody around here enjoys it. We do pig scrambles very often in the community. It is just something pretty normal here."
After the deluge of comments continued to come in, the Ragans issued another statement, reflecting their desire to appreciate everyone's viewpoint and to discontinue the pig scrambles in the future. Despite their efforts, the general managers of the facility have taken a leave of absence. The following is part of the statement they posted. "My ten year-old son is afraid to go into his own house now, after someone threw rocks and stated they would blow us up and kill our whole family. Our world has completely flipped upside down. All of this could've been resolved if someone would have just called the park to ask questions, not give threats."
The Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) responded to the aforementioned incident, but had little information to work with in locating the person responsible for the threats. A newer model, white minivan approached the residence and threw rocks which landed on the roof of the carport. A male voice was heard saying, "How does it feel to be abused like a pig?" Deputies canvassed the area and made sure the general manager and his family were safe. If you have any information that might help identify this individual, please contact MCSO at (850) 973-4001, ext. 1.