New York Friends of Animals director Edita Birnkrant said the event, the "7th Annual Hazzard County Squirrel Slam" -- a fundraiser for the Holley, N.Y., volunteer fire department Saturday -- is "disgusting."
"People were just outraged and in disbelief that a fire department could have such a disgusting scheme as a fundraiser that draws in children and rewards them for killing," she said.
The event is legal under New York hunting regulations and requires participants, some as young as 12, to have a valid hunting license.
Locals told WHAM-TV, Rochester, N.Y., Friday they resented protesters, many not from the village and some from as far away as New York City, passing judgment on a local tradition.
"It's a way of life around here, some people don't realize the squirrels do ... some damage," Ed Merritt of Holley said.
"People around here they do kill these animals but they eat them, they use their pelts, they're not going to waste and as far as these people? They can go back home where they come from," said Urb Bennett of neighboring Kendall, N.Y. "We don't go to their community and protest. All we want to do is come out here and be left alone."