Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen thought he struck just the right chord when he announced recently that rock 'n' roller Joan Jett would grace the state's Mount Rushmore American Pride float at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But what Hagen apparently didn't know is that Jett is a vegetarian and poster child for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, which promotes meatless diets in its quest to protect animals from what the organization considers cruel acts.

And now that decision is being questioned by members of the livestock community, including state Sen. Larry Rhoden, who said the choice of Jett for an agricultural state's float "seems pretty odd."

"Her agenda through PETA does not represent South Dakota," the Union Center rancher said. "The organization is obviously very anti-ag. They are very misinformed on the ag industry and the animal ag industry."

Jodie Anderson, the executive director of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, was surprised to hear of Jett's activism and worried that she might project the wrong image for a state with a proud and robust agricultural heritage.

"South Dakota Cattlemen's Association is very concerned that the South Dakota float would be featuring a prominent vegetarian on the Thanksgiving Parade float," she said Tuesday. "We hope that future floats would support not only the tourism industry but also agriculture."

The PETA website has a number of pages featuring Jett promoting vegetarianism. She also was quoted at the celebrity giving site saying “I am a vegetarian. So, I avoid contributing to the major environmental damage that the meat industry creates. I hope that soon we can make sure that everything we do is earth-friendly.”

Hagen, who noted that Jett has performed at the Deadwood Mountain Grand in Deadwood, said her presence on the float is all about bringing attention to the state.

"For us, it's not about the talent on the float," he said. "It's about having Mount Rushmore featured before 3 million live viewers ... more than 100 million people around the world who are seeing that float."

So far, the publicity has emphasized her status as a rock musician. Last year, the state's float featured Don McLean, who is most known for the song "American Pie," and in 2011 it was Neil Diamond who helped promote the state in the parade.

Hagen said the 55-year-old Jett is a popular musician who should appeal to the generation the state hopes to attract as tourists.

"The feedback through the years has just been immensely positive about the float and South Dakota as a vacation destination," he said. "I don't know the personal opinions and viewpoints of a lot of these artists."

Hagen also said that Jett's political views are really not an issue when it comes to marketing the state to a national audience.

"She holds views that I don't, but there are a lot of people who love her as an artist," Hagen said. "It puts the focus on Mount Rushmore and South Dakota."

(18) comments


Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” After reading some of these comments and having one of my comments deleted I can see South Dakota has a long way to go towards the ethical treatment of animals. And no, I am not a PETA person. I am just a man who happens to share the same view as Mahatma Gandhi...


I like Joan's music and recognize her role as a woman pioneer in the field. I also understand she was asked by Macy's to help the South Dakota float after the performers South Dakota suggested declined. Given these circumstances, I respect the graceful way she agreed to move to another float. It shows class - I am surprised that so few of the commenters seem to appreciate that. Unlike the Cattlemen's Association, she did use this opportunity to introduce politics into an event that is intended as a holiday celebration.

just stop it

Joanne please explain to those of us in the cattle business, just what is "all natural" meat? and what is hormone free? and also why people are so gullible and uneducated in where their food comes from? Please give examples.


I see a person comment who said you don't get anymore American then that! What is American? I mean is there a certain way we have to act and believe to be American!! I thought all men are equal and we had freedom to do as within our rights!! Which last I heard freedom of speech was one!! I see American pride as being proud of who you are and not being a specific way!! American is diversity!!!

Roger Cornelius

Oh My! Poor ranchers, first the blizzard now this!

Maybe they should save the money for the float and all related expenses for the parade and help the ranchers.


Considering the number of turkeys killed for our Thanksgiving gluttony I'm surprised she agreed to be on the float in the first place. How about Mato Nanji and his group Indigenous? A Nakota Nation member raised on the Yankton Indian Reservation he's become a prominent musician who has toured with Eric Clapton and BB King is conidered one of the finest blues guitarists of his generation.


This float is about American Pride, not about livestock or the Cattlemen's Association. The Cattlemen’s Association seems to be the ones drawing attention to all of this, not PETA and certainly not Joan Jett. American Pride has to do with freedom of speech, speaking for the animals that can't speak for themselves is only Human. Joan Jett is about American Pride, she has done well over 70 trips overseas to entertain our troops – some of those trips on their own before the USO came to them and asked them to team up. I doubt very seriously her plans were to get on the float in PETA attire and throw PETA flyers from the float. As the title of one of Joan's new songs is - SERIOUSLY? Joan Jett would only bring Integrity and Class to any float!


WOW! seriously!!! Why are we just now finding this out???? The participants and acts were chosen months ago! I question Mr. Hagen on all of this BS! 1.) You didn't know she was PETA?????? ( ok, I'll give you that one) google can be a little tough to navigate for some. 2.) Why are you just now admitting that??? Seems to me like you have known this for months and chose to do nothing about it. Were you hoping it would just quietly go away???? 3.) Quoting your own words "For us, it's not about the talent on the float," he said. "It's about having Mount Rushmore featured before 3 million live viewers ... more than 100 million people around the world who are seeing that float." If that's the case, assign her another float to "perform" on. We don't need or want her associated with South Dakota! 4.) Again, quoting your words "Her presence on the float is all about bringing attention to the state." No offense, but I don't want or need any of her PETA kind of followers bringing attention to my state. These animal activists are nothing more that uneducated morons and terrorists that want to put me and my family out of business. In closing, I would have a lot more respect for Mr. Hagen, if he just admitted he made a mistake and explained how he or we can try to make it right.


The article stated that Joan Jett was selected to participate on the Mount Rushmore American Pride float at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, not an agricultural themed float nor a Cattlemen's Association float. If they are using her celebrity to lure people's attention to the float, what would her dietary beliefs or restrictions matter? Honestly, there are quite a few vegans and vegetarians that hold down jobs within the ag sector of life. Agriculture is not just about raising animals, it also includes agronomics...the growing and supporting of crops for food, clothing, medicinal purposes and so forth (plants).


Jett is a better representative than Hagen can imagine. Her vegetarianism represents real food - the kind of which is rarely grown by SD farmers, whom instead too often grow feed. Most folks are eating less red meat to improve their diets. When they do eat red meat, they opt for grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meat. Hagen's selection may help the stock growers and farmers survive by more quickly adjusting to the changing markets.


Someone didn't do their homework. Put Toby Keith up there. you don't get more American than that!




Ha ha! Oh you're serious...sorry.

There are worse choices....

Pee Wee Herman, Miley Cyrus, and Charlie Sheen all come to mind.


I respectfully disagree with you Danno. None of those crazy people you mentioned are not trying to put my family and I out of business! Any one of them would be better than the latter. embarrassing, but better :)


Well done Mr. Hagen at looking at the bigger picture. Don't worry SD once the tourists come, and you take their money, you'll have plenty of opportunity to prove you're not diverse.

PS - It's not a livestock float.


But I'm sure J. Jett won't have a problem cashing the check provided by the backbone of SD animal ag industry. By the way, how much has J. Jett contributed to the cattle relief fund? Let me guess...nothing.


That is priceless have a peta member on a livestock float,maybe sharpen your pencil Mr.Hagen.

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