A Florida a couple who won a pig at a state fair auction, intending to save it from the slaughterhouse, discovered the animal would still be killed and spent $4,700 on its meat.
Meg and Eric Weinberger, who run Rescue Life in Palm Beach Gardens, insist the South Florida fair did not tell them they were bidding on the “ultimate” auction of livestock raised solely for processing.
They believe, but have not been able to confirm, that the pig they fell in love with, named Bella B Pig by the teenager who raised it, has now been killed. They say fair managers told them they were only entitled to 186 pounds of meat.
“It didn’t say it was a slaughter-only auction, or we would have turned around and left,” Meg Weinberger said.
“They said state law requires the animal to be killed, but other fairs in Florida allow the winning bidders to take the animals with them. You can keep the meat, donate the meat or take the animal home.”
Weinberger said she called the Florida Department of Agriculture after the fair refused to run her credit card and found out that a private sale was possible. But honest officials were not interested, she said.
“I’ve been waiting six hours until the end of the auction and this lady walks in and says, ‘That’s it, this is the end of the sale,'” she said.
She said she called the slaughterhouse in a last-ditch effort to save the pig, but “they called me back and said they didn’t want to lose their contract with the state fair over one pig.”
Victoria Churis, president and executive director of the South Florida Fair, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Churis yielded to Palm Beach Post that the auction registration form did not state that the pigs would be processed into food, but it did on its website. The market auction guide was not available online on Thursday.
“We always assume that bidders are familiar with the rules and review them on our website. We will revise the registration form to make it clear that this is a terminal auction,” Churis told the Post, adding that the fair has been holding such auctions for decades.
Most of the hogs at the fair sell for about $1,900, the Post reported. Weinberger said she and her husband are willing to pay more to support teenagers trying farming for the first time by participating in Program 4-H on agricultureraising animals at auction.
She said the teenager who raised Bella B. Swin from the piglet, a 16-year-old girl, was upset by the controversy and deleted the Instagram page used to chronicle the animal’s growth.
“She went through so much,” Weinberger said, adding that she and her husband made sure the young man got all $4,700.
Churis said CBS Miami the meat will be donated to charity.
“We all learn from this experience,” she said.
Becky Brashear, the fair’s director of business development, told the Post that a private sale was not possible because the pigs were not raised with other animals.
Weinberger dismissed the claim, saying she suspects the fair doesn’t want to advertise that it’s holding slaughter auctions for public relations reasons.
“I know people eat meat, eat lard, but they don’t want to know that the pig they just saw at the fair is the one that’s going to be on their plate,” she said.