"Blozë Gjel" Festival at the Estonian Cultural Center has drawn protests from animal rights activists.
“Bloze Gjel” Festival at the Estonian Cultural Center has drawn protests from animal rights activists.

Bakersfield, CA — Controversy erupted over the holidays in the California central valley town of Bakersfield when animal rights activists disrupted an annual “Blozaeil” Festival at the Estonian Cultural Center. Blozaeil, which roughly translates to “Black Rooster,” is an Eastern European tradition dating back over 1300 years which involves dying a chicken black just prior to butchering it for the December 26th feast. Animal rights activists have called the practice barbaric and cruel and have demanded that Bakersfield pass an ordinance banning the practice.

“This is a disgrace,” commented local PETA activist Ashley Hail who traveled from Nevada City to  Bakersfield to protest the Blozaeil Festival. “To do this to an animal is vulgar and stupid. The Estonian community is able to carry on their traditions symbolically without resorting to this kind of cruelty. You know, like the Methodists have done.”

Bakersfield has the largest Estonian population outside of Estonia, with many of its residents immigrating there in the last days of World War II. It’s unclear why so many made the perilous journey from the small Eastern European country to the then small rural California farming and oil community, but social scientists have offered a peculiar and oddly satisfying explanation.

“Buck Owens,” said University of Chicago’s Professor James Badwater speaking via telephone at his Badwater Institute of Social Science, “was extremely popular in Estonia and many of his songs became a part of their national fabric. So when hard time hit, especially in the years after the war, people want to go, for a lack of a better term, to their happy place. And they brought their rich and sometimes controversial cultural traditions with them.”

The Controversy

Much of the controversy surrounding the Blozaeil Festival stem from a misunderstanding about how roosters are treated.

“You have to understand how revered the gjel is in our culture,” said Estonian Cultural Center official Aleksander Karner. “The animal is treated with the utmost respect before it is slaughtered. In fact, Estonian children take part in the ritual with the women who pluck and prepare the chicken for the feast. It’s a ritual dating back hundreds of years to celebrate our victories from the Black Death. These protesters need to stop picking and choosing which traditions they think are politically correct.”

As for PETA activist Ashley Hail, she’s not giving up.

“We’ve learned over the years that you’ve got to hit your foe where it hurts,” continued Ms. Hail.” For Conservatives and Big Business, it’s their wallets and the threat of more regulations. For ‘liberals,’ you just have to shame them.”

Bakersfield city council says it plans no action against the Blozaeil Festival.

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