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No public dollars to fairs that support racism

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors is poised to give the Delaware County Fair over a quarter million dollars in federal funds. We vehemently oppose having any of our tax dollars used to prop up an organization that is actively supporting violent white supremacy. Read our letter to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Attorney General Letitia James, NYS Ag and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, and NYS Senator Alessandra Biaggi below.

February 18, 2022

Dear Senator Gillibrand, Attorney General James, Commissioner Ball, and Senator Biaggi,

We are a group of community members in Delaware County, NY who have been working since 2017 to oppose the sale of racist merchandise at our county fair, and all county fairs in New York. We are deeply grateful to all of you for the work you have already done to combat racism, including on behalf of this campaign. We seek your urgent help again.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors will be voting on February 23 to use federal funds to provide more than a quarter million dollars to the Delaware County Fair, despite the fact that the fair continues to serve as a platform for the sale of Confederate flag merchandise. We are asking for your help to ensure that these public funds not be used to support the fair unless the Fair Board ends the display and sale of racist merchandise.

While we have seen some success in convincing other county fairs to ban Confederate flags and other racist merchandise, our own Delaware County fair has steadfastly stood in support of racism and vendors who profit off symbols of white supremacy (one board director stated, “the more [Confederate flags], the better”). For years now, the Fair Board has rebuffed requests from hundreds of community members, Attorney General James, State Commissioner Ball, Cornell University, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, and many other stakeholders to end the sale of hate merchandise. They allowed the sale and display of Confederate flags again last year.

After years of low fair attendance, the directors of the Delaware County fair have recently asked our County Board of Supervisors for half a million dollars in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. A committee of the board of supervisors has already approved $265,000 for the fair, and the money will likely be voted on by the full Board of Supervisors on February 23.

In late 2020, New York State passed Senator Biaggi’s law that, among other things, empowers the state agricultural commissioner to “take any measures necessary to prohibit the sale, on the grounds of the state fair and any other fairs that receive government funding, of symbols of hate.”

We vehemently oppose having any of our tax dollars used to prop up an organization that is actively supporting violent white supremacy. We urge you to use the power of your offices to ensure that this does not happen. If the Delaware County Fair Board is to receive this funding, it needs to stop serving as a platform for the sale of hate merchandise.

Thank you again for all of your efforts on behalf of an inclusive and welcoming community.

In solidarity,

Christina Hunt Wood, Leslie Kauffman, Laura McClure, Tracey West Hancock, and Krisy Gashler, on behalf of Fair for All

Cc: Delaware County Board of Supervisors, Media

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