Joan Jett, the famous rock guitarist known for her animal rights advocacy, will be performing at the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the South Dakota state's float despite gripes from the state's ranchers.
Much of South Dakota's economy is based on the state's cattle industry, leading many to argue that Jett, who is a vegetarian and supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, does not mesh well with the culture of the state she will be representing.
"To me, it seems like a huge blunder," South Dakota Cattlemen's Association President Cory Eich told the Associated Press on Wednesday
. "I guess I couldn't disapprove more. I don't understand what they were thinking."
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The 55-year-old Pennsylvania-born rocker will be performing with her band "Joan Jett and the Blackhearts" on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial float to promote tourism throughout the state of South Dakota.
According to South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen, Jett was not selected by his office or by state officials, rather it was Macy's that selected the vegetarian rocker after several other artists who were proposed by his office were unavailable to perform that day.
"It's not because of any ill will Macy's is trying to create or anything," Hagen told the AP. "They were just trying to do what they thought would be a great artist for us."
Hagen added that state officials are sensitive to the concerns of the livestock industry, particularly since tens of thousands of cattle and other livestock were killed in the massive rain and snow storm that hit western South Dakota in early October, the Associated Press reported.
Jett spokeswoman Kristen Foster told the AP that the rocker had played in South Dakota countless times before and is a fan of the state.
Considering that Jett's association with PETA was one of the reasons why some South Dakota ranchers took issue with the rocker representing their state, PETA senior vice president Dan Mathews weighed into the controversy earlier in the week.
"We're surprised that ranchers want to draw attention to themselves by being crybabies over the appearance of a vegetarian icon such as Joan Jett on the state's float," Mathews told the AP in an email.
Mathews accused South Dakota's livestock industry of being defensive because it is destructive to the environment, human health and animals, in his words.
Eich, who farms and ranches near Canova in eastern South Dakota, countered by saying PETA's mission is to destroy animal agriculture while claiming that farmers and ranchers treat their animals well adding, "You don't mistreat your livelihood."
According to Hagen, South Dakota paid $175,000 to be part of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, of which $5,000 would be going toward paying Jett's expenses.
Past singers who performed on the South Dakota Macy's Parade float included Neil Diamond in 2011 and "American Pie" singer Don McLean in 2012.
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