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Facebook fury over rabbits prompts apology from Red River Valley Fair officials

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FARGO -- The Red River Valley Fair has apologized after some people were outraged after seeing live animals given away as prizes for a carnival game at the fair.

At the Red River Valley Fair, prize rabbits are usually reserved for the animal barns, but on Tuesday, some fair-goers realized one carnival booth was actually handing out bunnies - and not the stuffed kind.

The carnival is jam packed with excitement from the rides, games and of course the carnival at the Red River Valley Fair is chock full of prizes of all shapes and sizes.

"Some of my best memories with my family are there," said carnival worker Nicole Troutman. "They get so excited over their prize they don't know what they want."

One game's prize enraged some guests and Facebook users.

A post about a booth giving away live rabbits a prize raised a few eyebrows with the fair association.

"We got a notification that someone had gotten a bunny as a prize," said Red River Valley Fair General Manager Bryan Schulz.

Besides questions of how the animals were treated, and who they might go home with, the fair had another concern with the cottontails.

"It's against the law in the state of North Dakota to give away any type of live animal," said Schulz.

When the fair learned about the booth, it immediately told the carnival operator, which is a separate entity.

The carnival allegedly didn't know about the rabbits and says the booth is operated by an independent contractor.

One carnival worker I spoke with says it's standard to give rabbits as prizes in other states, and all the animals are bought from regional farms, but the carnival was very clear with the booth.

"They basically said you can't do this, you need to close down," said Schulz.

For the rest of the week, fair-goers will have to make due with stuffed animals, instead of the real thing.

The North Dakota Century Code does not have the same restrictions on species like goldfish and Hermit Crabs - those are legal to give away as prizes.

The rabbits have reportedly been returned to the vendor they originally came from.