By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 9, 2019
MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) – This past weekend, the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Campground in Madison County posted various photos, which caused quite a controversy on Facebook.
The photos, which have now been deleted from the page, show people participating in a mud pig scramble. This is just one of the several activities that the campground hosts over the Fourth of July holiday.
The annual pig scramble has been hosted by the campground for the past 20 years, but has now received major backlash.
Co-owner Latrelle Ragans shares that the activity is one that kids, parents and grandparents call good ole fun.
"Its something you do on the farm a lot of times, the pigs get out and you got to put them back in the pen, and that's what the kids were doing, they just having fun," she said.
But not everyone thinks so.
Hundreds commented, reacted, and shared the posts on the Facebook page. Some, like Amanda Gillel, were outraged by the pictures.
Gillel, along with two other families had reservations for the summer, but after seeing the pictures, decided to cancel.
Gillel says she has seen pig scrambles before but was not expecting to see that from a Yogi Bear Campground.
"Pig scramble is not peanut butter sandwiches and a picnic blankets and a bedtime story," she said.
The back and forth lead the Ragans to post a statement on Monday, which has since been removed.
"We had a great turn out this week and weekend. Live band, fireworks, games, activities, the traditional mud day. Yes there was a pig chase, which is a common activity in the south and rodeo activities. All our guests ask for this activity! No pigs were injured! It is not inhumane. Doing a pig scramble is no different than going to a rodeo where cows are chased and roped and people ride horses. No one did anything like that...all campers participating please share about your fun and please share pics ect. Thanks!"
But Tuesday, the owners changing their view, and released this statement:
"We strive to always provide our guests with a positive experience in a family-friendly environment in which all of our guests feel comfortable. We realize that events from this past weekend have caused some concern and it was never our intention to do so. Accordingly, we have decided not to repeat the event in the future."
Jimmy Ragans, one of the owners understands the concern, saying "We will not do this activity anymore, because of, we want to respect everyone on both sides."
Latrelle shares, "The way the world is today you have to make some changes and we have to make this adjustment."
But some, like Tiffany Register, do not believe the outrage to be warranted.
"Playing with pigs is fun," Register said. "I enjoy it, everybody around here enjoys it. We do pig scrambles very often in the community. It is just something pretty normal here."
The negative publicity has now costed the Ragans their franchise.
On Tuesday, the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park company told the Ragans that they would be cutting ties with the campground.
Jimmy shares, "Its unfortunate that it has gotten to the point it is. What it has did to our park, we didn't know we were doing anything wrong just something we always did."
The owners also shared that the comments and photos caused individuals to threaten their general managers, who they have also lost. Latrelle was too emotional to recount the details, so Jimmy took over, "That was really upsetting that that happened to them."
The general managers posted this on the Facebook Page on Tuesday:
"I have not jumped on this band wagon since all this began, I am making one statement and one statement only...All the bashing back and forth that everyone is doing has resulted in my family being the only thing abused in this situation! My 10 year old son is scared to go into his own house now after someone threw rocks and stated that they would blow us up and kill our whole family! Our world has been completely flipped upside down. All this could've been resolved if someone would've just called the park to ask questions, not give threats! I am not apologizing for anything that was done at the park. We love all the yoi customers and will greatly miss you, but my families well-being comes before anything. Thank you and may God Bless. T&K."
The owners now say they will move forward from this and take the lessons they have learned into the future, now under a new company name.
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park-Camp Resorts released this statement in response to the events:
"We want to make sure every one of our campers has a positive stay in a welcoming, family friendly environment. We deeply apologize that an activity in Madison, Florida during the Fourth of July weekend caused such concern for campers, the park's management and others in the community. We will learn from the situation and look for ways to improve the Jellystone Park Experience."
The Ragans say that although they will not be under the "Yogi" name, they are still looking forward to having their customers enjoy the family-friendly environment that they will continue to provide. They will continue to host activities, excluding the pig scramble.
Those with current reservations for this campground will still have their reservations for the camp even though it is not in association with Yogi Bear.