March 6, 2019
An Open Letter to Ed Rossley and Delaware County Fair Board Members
We are writing to ask you once again to instruct Delaware County Fair vendors not to sell or display Confederate flag items and to clearly and publicly announce this change of policy. We also ask that you hold vendors to this policy, ensuring that the 2019 fair, and future fairs, are not marred by these flags.
The Confederate flag is a rallying symbol for violent white supremacists and hate groups. It sends a hostile and intimidating message to people of color who visit the fair, and spreads the impression that our county is racist and backward. The Confederate flag is no longer sold at Walmart or Amazon, nor is it allowed to be sold at the New York State Fair. Several New York county fairs have already banned the sale of these items. The Delaware County Fair should not be known as one of few places remaining in the North where hate-promoting, pro-slavery merchandise can be purchased.
The fight to stop the sale and display of racist paraphernalia at the Delaware County Fair – and all New York county fairs – is growing:
New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the state’s chief legal officer, has stated that “all state-funded fairs should act immediately to ban the sale of these flags.” The Attorney General said that “Confederate flags are a tribute to a dark, hateful, and painful past and have no place in our society beyond the history books. State-funded fairs and events should not be peddlers and profiters of this, or any other hateful paraphernalia.”
New York State Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball communicated to fair boards across New York State that the sale and display of these items “runs counter to our great state's long history of inclusion for all.” Ball said that “New York State stands firm against bias and intolerance of all kinds and our fairs, which are a critical component of our agricultural economy and social fabric of our communities, should represent the very best of New York.”
Cornell University President Martha Pollack has decried the presence of this merchandise at county fairs. The Confederate flag, she says, “has a history deeply rooted in white supremacy” and serves as a “divisive symbol of intolerance.” As you know, Cornell Cooperative Extension provides crucial support and programming to county fairs, including the Delaware County Fair.
It is time – past time – for the Delaware County Fair to put this issue to rest. We urge you to communicate in writing to all 2019 fair vendors that Confederate flag merchandise may not be sold or displayed at the Delaware County Fair, and hold them to it.
Please inform us of the fair board’s policy regarding the sale and display of Confederate flag items at the 2019 Delaware County Fair. Contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
With continued determination,
Christina Hunt Wood, Laura McClure, Krisy Gashler & Bonnie Seegmiller
for Fair for All
cc: Jeanne Darling, Craig DuMond