Flag Issue Flaps Fair
The Wayne County Fair Board, announced Aug. 23 that it is discouraging the display of the Confederate flag by vendors, but is still permitting the flag’s sale.
That announcement became public in a meeting between Rev. Andries Coetzee, Wooster/Orrville NAACP President Juanita Greene, and WCF Manager Pete Armstrong.
The announcement was confirmed with Coetzee & Greene by the BLADE, and with Armstrong by the Daily Record in the Aug. 28 article, “NAACP/Church See Progress.”
Only two vendors offer Confederate flag material and both have been personally contacted, according to Greene.
Don Reichart, WCFB President, explained the reason for the change of policy, saying, “We just want to keep everybody calm. Only a small percent of people care.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a year long effort by the Wooster/Orrville NAACP, Coetzee’s Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County to have sales of the flag banned, according to Coetzee.
The most recent actions taken by the coalition have included circulating an online petition espousing a ban, which at press time had 471 signatures.
Greene asserts, “The Confederate flag was flown by groups of whites that were against civil rights… In that aspect, it is a symbol of hatred and recent incidents have shown it is still used as a symbol of hatred.”
In Greene’s opinion, the WCFB’s policy of discouraging the flag’s display, “really doesn’t go far enough, but it’s baby steps. At least in our conversation [on Aug. 23] they finally heard us, they finally understand.”
Reichart said the WCFB’s opposition to a ban is that “The First Amendment is the freedom of speech and freedom of action; there are no laws in the country against the Confederate flag. If we were to [ban the flag’s sale] it would be censorship.”
Alicia Shoulps, the Marketing and Public Relations Director of the Ohio State Fair, which has banned the sale of the flag since 2015, said, “It would only be a First Amendment issue if you banned wearing [the flag]. This was a contractual ban; we determine what our vendors sell.” She compared banning the flag’s sale to restricting the types of foods each vendor can sell.
Shoulps went on to say that while they got a mixed reaction on social media when they announced the ban of the flag, the impact on the Ohio State Fair has been “zero” in terms of revenue and attendance.