WELLINGTON — The Lorain County Fair Board has no plans to bar the sale of the at the fairgrounds.
Fair Board President Kim Meyers told the board during its Tuesday meeting that the committee overseeing vendors and concessions discussed the controversy over the flag that came up during last month’s fair.
“We think the current policy in place works well, and I’m not advocating any changes,” he said.
Meyers asked if anyone else on the board wanted to weigh in on the issue, but no one commented.
Fair Board Vice President Brian Twining said after the meeting that there wasn’t much need for further discussion.
“That policy has the backing of the full Fair Board,” he said.
County Commissioner Matt Lundy, a Democrat, touched off the debate when he suggested during a conversation with Meyers that the Fair Board ban the sale or display of Confederate flags and merchandise.
Meyers responded that although the board had discussed the issue in the weeks leading up to the fair, the members decided to delay taking action until after fair week so they could perform further legal research.
Lundy then brought up the issue at a Lorain County commissioners meeting, criticizing the decision to allow the sale of the flag to continue. Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini closed down his party’s booth at the fair when the board didn’t make any immediate changes.
Lundy, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, said he had hoped the board would halt the sale of the Confederate flag, which he called an “offensive” symbol.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to hear that,” he said of the decision. “I think it’s a divisive symbol.”
The appropriateness of displaying the Confederate flag became part of the national discussion over race relations in the wake of the racially motivated attack at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. The June shooting, allegedly carried out by Dylann Roof, left nine people dead.
Lundy said that even if the Fair Board didn’t agree to ban the Confederate flag, at least the issue had a public airing and, in time, he hopes the board will reconsider its position.
“I don’t think the discussion should end,” he said, pointing out the Ohio State Fair and several national corporations have pulled the Confederate flag.
Unless there’s a change in the law, Meyers said, he doesn’t anticipate the board will revisit the issue.
Meyers has suggested that Lundy was trying to capitalize politically on the controversy and said that Lundy didn’t tell him he planned to criticize the Fair Board during a commissioners’ meeting without giving him the chance to respond.
Meyers also has said that the public’s response has been overwhelmingly in favor of the Fair Board’s decision to allow the flag to remain, something he has described as a free speech issue.
Although Meyers has previously said he planned to attend one of the commissioners’ weekly meetings to respond to Lundy and other critics, he no longer intends to do so.
“I don’t think there’s anything I could accomplish attending a commissioners’ meeting,” he said.
The fair receives $3,300 per year from the commissioners each year, although the fairgrounds itself is owned by the Lorain County Agricultural Society, which is better known as the Fair Board.
The board did briefly discuss putting up signs around the fairgrounds announcing that it was private property, in part to counter comments they heard during the Confederate flag debate that the commissioners owned the fairgrounds.
County Commissioner Ted Kalo, who backed Lundy’s position, conceded the commissioners have no say over what happens on the fairgrounds, even if he would like to see the flag banned.
“I don’t think it should be sold there, but that’s just personal opinion,” he said.
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