The Delaware County Fair, held in Walton the middle of August, has been an annual rite of summer for 132 years. But the good will of the Fair has been marred in recent years by the Fair Board’s refusal to comply with the community demand that vendors be prohibited from selling merchandise bearing the Confederate flag.
Two years ago, the organization Fair for All was formed with the goal of banning Confederate flag merchandise from all N.Y. county fairs and so far eight fairs have prohibited these racist items. The week before our 2017 Fair opened, the Unite the Right rally, at which counter protester Heather Heyer was killed by a 20-year-old white supremacist, took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unite the Right marchers carried Confederate battle flags along with Nazi paraphernalia and assault-style rifles.
Fair for All organized a large protest rally outside the Fair gate the Sunday before opening day. The then and current head of the Fair board, Ed Rossley, tried to have the protesters arrested. The then and current Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond refused.
The protesters presented a petition to the Fair Board, but it was business as usual for Confederate flag items at the Fair. For 2018, the Fair board announced that vendors would only be allowed to display Confederate flag merchandise ‘inside their tents.’ This was a pointless and probably disingenuous measure since vendors’ tents are wide open and the Confederate flag was visible in several of them.
At an April 29th meeting, in response to pressure from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, the N.Y. State Attorney General, N.Y. State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, Fair for All and community members, the Fair Board decided to prohibit the display of Confederate flag merchandise but, perversely, continue to allow its sale! The Board has yet to put this new policy into writing or share it publicly. Judging by the Fair Board’s track record, Fair for All is continuing to demand that the Delaware County Fair prohibit both the display and sale of these divisive, disrespectful and dangerous items. You can help by writing to the Delaware County Fair Board, Ed Rossley, Chair, Fair Street, PO Box 344, Walton NY 13856. Please use the Fair for All slogan, ‘Hate Spoils the Fun’ in your letter.