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Fair board stands firm in allowing sale of Confederate flag

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    Confederate flags were displayed for fair-goers to buy last year at the Lorain County Fair.



WELLINGTON — The sale of the Confederate flag will continue this summer at the Lorain County Fair despite continued criticism of the practice.

Jeanine Donaldson, who heads up the Fair Minded Coalition of Lorain County, said she went to the Fair Board’s meeting earlier this week to renew her group’s opposition to the sale of the flag, but her visit doesn’t appear to have changed any minds among those making the decision.

“We’re still going to allow the selling of Civil War memorabilia,” Brian Twining, the Fair Board’s president, said Friday.

Donaldson said her organization also has sent letters to each Fair Board member as well as to other organizations, including the Ohio State University Extension, which works with 4-H and the Junior Fair.

She said the letters and her visit were designed to keep the pressure on the Fair Board and remind them of the view that opposition to the flag remains strong.

“It’s just to let them know we’re still here,” Donaldson said. “We’re still going to ask people to withhold their support until something changes.”

She also said she wants people to know exactly what they’re supporting when they attend the fair.

The coalition and other critics have been trying to halt the sale of the Confederate flag at the annual event since 2015 when county Commissioner Matt Lundy first asked the Fair Board to ban the practice.

Lundy and his fellow commissioners, Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski, all said Friday they won’t have a booth at the fair again this year because of their continued opposition to the flag.

“I don’t see the board of commissioners returning to the fair because of the flag issue,” Kalo said.

Lundy said the commissioners are sponsoring some awards for youth organizations involved with the fair because he doesn’t believe young people should be punished because of the Fair Board’s decisions.

He also said the flag has the same meaning it always had and it’s not one he sees as being in line with the values of the people of Lorain County.

“I still think it’s a divisive symbol,” Lundy said. “I still think it’s a symbol of hate.”

Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini said his party also will skip setting up a booth at the fair this year because of the ongoing controversy.

“As long as they allow vendors to sell the Confederate flag at the county fair, the county Democratic Party won’t have a booth at the county fair,” he said. “… For too many millions of Americans that flag represents one thing and one thing only.”

Twining said despite the controversy surrounding the flag in recent years, most people he’s talked to support allowing the sale of the Confederate flag. The Fair Board has long argued that allowing the sale of the flag is a free speech issue.

Twining said nothing has changed and the vendors who want to sell the Confederate flag will be able to do so.

“Too me, it’s just another vendor,” he said.

Donaldson said she and her allies remain committed to getting the Fair Board to agree to follow the lead of the Ohio State Fair, which has banned the Confederate flag. She said opponents of the flag will continue to push the issue and are open to discuss the matter with the Fair Board or anyone else who wants to talk about it.

She said she is considering hosting a public event this summer for that purpose.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

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