The Lorain County Fair Board was never asked to stop selling the Confederate flag by the Ohio State Fair board, according to a director on the board.
During a demonstration organized by the Fair-minded Coalition Wednesday afternoon in downtown Elyria, YWCA Executive Director Jeanine Donaldson said the state fair board asked the local fair to stop the sale of the flag.
But Kim Meyers, who serves as one of the directors on the Lorain County Fair Board, said the statement was untrue and felt the board “needed to set the record straight.”
“That’s an untrue statement that they’ve made,” he said. “They never asked us to stop selling anything, let alone the Confederate flag. I think they’re looking for leverage anyway they can get it. She’s trying to make it as though everybody in the world has told us not to and we’re still doing it. That’s just not the case.”
Donaldson said she may have misspoken Wednesday, but she believes that when the state fair board banned the sale of the Confederate flag in 2015, it was meant to be a message that the fair boards around the state would follow suit.
Meyers said that wasn’t the case.
“Everyone seems to gloss over the fact that there was a resolution by 88 counties and seven independent fairs in January 2016 to allow all Civil War memorabilia, including Confederate items,” he said. “People were trying to make an issue of it, so there was a resolution passed unanimously then.
“We don’t follow the Ohio State Fair and what they do. They’re on their own. They’re politically motivated for whatever reasons they want.”
Meyers also said the county fair board has questions of who exactly the Fair-minded Coalition is and how many members it has.
“We don’t believe that they’re this group they claim they are. We asked if they’ve formed a legal entity, a nonprofit, an LLC, a corporation. Are you a 501(c)(3)? Do you have an entity status? Do you have a place you meet?
“I didn’t think the YWCA was the Fair-minded Coalition, but maybe it is. It’s looking like that. They paid for the billboards. They’ve sent mass mailings with the return address stamp of the YWCA. It’s obvious stuff is coming out of there, but it’s been like Jell-O trying to get your hands around. Nobody will tell you.”
According to Donaldson, the coalition is part of the YWCA.
“No, we don’t have legal paperwork. We are the Elyria YWCA,” she said. “The Elyria YWCA has several committees or programs we operate. One of the programs that we operate, and is actually mandated by our national office, is that we have a racial justice program.”
Donaldson said the YWCA has a mission, which is the elimination of racism and the empowerment of women. She said it’s the same at every YWCA in the country.
“(The Fair-minded Coalition) is a committee of our association. That’s what people don’t understand,” she said. “They want to equate the YWCA with the YMCA — swim, gym and youth programming. We do youth programming, and we do classes, workshops and have a fitness center we operate. We’re also required to address our mission, which is eliminating racism and empowering women.”
Meyers also questioned why the Lorain County Fair is the only fair that is being pushed on the issue of allowing the sale of the Confederate flag.
“Medina County was just done. I haven’t been to Cuyahoga County this year, but in past years they’ve had it,” he said. “Wayne County has. I know Ashland County has. Other county fairs throughout the state have, and I know adjoining counties have, but we’re the only ones being singled out by these people in our area.”
Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini, who’s also a part of the coalition, said there’s a simple reason for it.
“Because all the individuals involved in the Fair-minded Coalition are from Lorain County,” he said. We don’t go to other fairs. We used to go to the Lorain County Fair. We don’t care if every other county in the United States of America sells the Confederate flag. We don’t want our county being a part of it.”
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