Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Some white supremacist merchandise remains despite Fair Board pledge
Years of community outcry are finally having an effect: The Delaware County Fair Board has cut back on the amount of hate merchandise it's allowing vendors to sell at this year's fair.
Members of the advocacy group Fair for All visited the fairgrounds on opening day. We talked with every vendor who was displaying Confederate flag merchandise. In our walk-through, we found no full-size Confederate flags on display, a notable change from years past. We did, however, find four vendors selling a variety of racist merchandise: t-shirts, belt buckles, pins, signs, and other items emblazoned with the Confederate flag, the symbol of slavery that has been embraced and re-purposed in recent years as the banner of violent white supremacy.
We then had a conversation in the Fair Board office with Fair Board secretary Jason Craig. We were unable to get a written copy of their policy or even a clear oral statement, and were unable to convince Jason Craig that ANY merchandise containing a representation of the confederate flag (e.g., belt buckles, t-shirts, hats) is no different from displaying an actual flag. However, we urged the Board to take action to rid the fair of ALL of these hateful items. We believe further pressure on the Fair Board during Fair Week may lead to additional action.
One vendor in particular (see map) has a great many of these items on prominent display – and threatened to call the police on Fair for All for visiting and photographing her booth. (We have every right to do so – her handwritten “no photos” signs have no standing, either under the law or the written policies of the Fair.) Two other vendors listened to our concerns and voluntarily removed Confederate flag items from their booths after we politely asked them to do so.
We are glad that the Fair Board has listened to community appeals and taken steps to reduce the amount of racist merchandise on display. But there's no reason for any of it to be there – and it's unacceptable that the Fair Board continues to showcase and protect a vendor who not only has a booth brimming with hate, but has repeatedly threatened fairgoers who voice objections to her racist wares.
During Fair Week, we have a rare opportunity to make our voices heard and press the Fair Board to take further action.
Please contact the Fair Board at (607) 865-4763 or use this online form [https://delawarecountyfair.org/contact-us/ ] to let them know that you don't want ANY hate merchandise displayed at our community event. By allowing vendors to sell and display racist merchandise, they are sending the signal that only white people are truly welcome at the Delaware County Fair – and teaching children that adults in their community actively support and sanction hate.
If you're attending the Fair, please photograph any racist merchandise you see, and give the person staffing the vendor tent an invitation to make the fair welcoming for all. (You can download the invitations here and here, or pick up copies at the Democratic Party's booth in the main commercial tent, where you can also pick up a free Fair for All button.)
Then visit the Fair Office, tell them what you saw, and ask that the Fair's Board of Directors please stop allowing any of this merchandise to be sold. If possible, try to speak directly with board member Ed Rossley, who is in charge of vendors and concessions at the fair. Please share your photographs and report with us at email@example.com.
We know how upsetting it can be to see this hate merchandise, and how passionately many in the community feel about having it on display at our county fair. We urge you to be polite and calm when you communicate with the Fair Board and with vendors – especially with the vendor who has proven so hostile to community input. Please record and report any threats she makes, both to the Fair's Board of Directors and to us.
If you have a booth or other presence at the Delaware County Fair and would like either copies of our invitation or Fair for All buttons to distribute, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Huge thanks to everyone who has spoken out and taken action on this issue. With violent white supremacy tearing our nation apart, it’s more important than ever that our local community event not serve as a platform for hate. Let’s make the Delaware County Fair an event where everyone feels welcome.