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Ranchers rankled by Joan Jett pick for SD Macy’s float

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By Chet Brokaw

PIERRE — Some South Dakota farmers and ranchers are upset by the selection of singer-guitarist Joan Jett, a vegetarian and animal rights advocate, to perform on the state’s float in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are scheduled to appear at the annual event in New York City, riding on the float that promotes South Dakota tourism and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial located in the Black Hills.

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Cory Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, said Wednesday he thinks it was a mistake to select Jett because she is a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promotes a vegetarian diet and criticizes livestock production practices. Her stands don’t mesh with South Dakota, a state where the cattle industry makes up a huge part of the economy, he said. The Rapid City Journal first reported some South Dakota residents were upset with the pick.

“To me, it seems like a huge blunder,” Eich said. “I guess I couldn’t disapprove more. I don’t understand what they were thinking.”

South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said many people have mistakenly assumed state officials selected Jett to appear on the float. None of the artists the state proposed were available or willing to appear in the parade, so Macy’s selected Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, he said. “It’s never been about the artist for us in terms of who’s on that float. It’s about the fact that Mount Rushmore and South Dakota can be seen and heard by tens of millions of people,” Hagen said.

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