Orange County Fair `Unlikely' to Have Rodeo in 2024

Orange County Fair

Photo: LPETTET / E+ / Getty Images

COSTA MESA (CNS) - Next year's Orange County Fair will likely not include a rodeo, fair officials said Monday, but a different type of animal attraction could be added in the future.

Terry Moore, director of communications for the fair, told City News Service that the decision was made for business reasons related to the provider for this year's rodeo, Flying U Rodeo, and had nothing to do with a fatal injury suffered by a bull during this year's event.

A bucking bull broke his hind leg almost immediately after leaving the chute on Aug. 3. It took several minutes for wranglers to get the badly injured animal into a trailer for medical attention, while hundreds of horrified fans looked on.

The bull was later euthanized, and some animal rights activists used the injury to prod officials with the fair and Costa Mesa to reconsider holding rodeos in the future.

The matter came up at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting, but council members noted that they have no authority over the lineup at the annual fair, which takes place on state property at the Orange County Fair & Events Center.

"We have limited influence to be sure ... but we do have friends, many friends, over at the fairgrounds, that we can have discussions with -- honest discussions about whether that's the best use of that asset, and I intend to do that. I intend to initiate those discussions," Mayor John Stephens said.

Indeed, Moore told CNS that Stephens held a "very informal" talk the next day with OC Fair & Events Center CEO Michele Richards.

"It is very unlikely that we would have rodeo back at the fair next year, for business reasons," Moore said, adding that "we may have another animal attraction in the future."

"Animals will always be part of the fair because they're a part of our agricultural history," Moore said. "That's the whole reason that fairs exist."

A few California cities have banned rodeos in recent years due to concerns about animal cruelty, including Irvine and Pasadena.

A proposed ordinance that would effectively ban rodeos in Los Angeles passed a City Council committee in late 2022, but still awaits final council approval.

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