Efforts To Ban Confederate Symbols From Lorain County Fair Renewed

Entrance to the Lorain County Fair
In 2015, the Ohio State Fair banned the sale of the Confederate flag and Commissioner Matt Lundy asked the Lorain Fair Board to do the same. [Annie Wu / ideastream]

The group Lorain County Fair Minded Coalition is reviving a 5-year-old effort to ban the sale and display of Confederate memorabilia at the fair.

In 2015, the Ohio State Fair banned the sale of the Confederate flag and Commissioner Matt Lundy asked the Lorain Fair Board to do the same. Lundy said the fair board’s arguments against the move then, and now, revolve around free speech and heritage.

“But why use a family event to promote and provide a platform for hate speech?” Lundy asked.

“There’s nothing honorable, nothing honorable about the Confederacy,” Lundy said. “There’s nothing honorable about treason in this country. There’s nothing honorable about division. There’s nothing honorable about treating human beings like animals and calling them property.”

State Representative Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) joined the Lorain County Fair Minded Coalition and said she’s prepared to introduce legislation banning the display of confederate memorabilia at fairs across Ohio.

"I've been going to the county fair since I was a child, a small child,” Brent said. “I think the first time I went I was about 6 or 7. I was in the first or second grade and every time I saw that flag, it was a symbol of hate.”

Brent said her experiences as the ranking member on the House agriculture committee and traveling 20 county fairs showed that too many still use the symbol.

“We cannot use our tax dollars, which pays for all of these state fairs, for places that use the symbols of hate and oppression within [the] United States,” Brent said. “Every time I see that flag and somebody wants to hold on tight to that flag, you're basically telling me that I don't belong here as a state rep, and if the Confederacy would've won, I would not be a state rep right now.”

Brent also said she doesn’t understand why counties in Ohio would want to keep the symbol displayed or for sale.

“Ohio lost the largest amount of Union soldiers in the Civil War fighting against this flag,” Brent said. “What do we tell our ancestors of the state of Ohio when we allow this flag to still exist in 2020?”

In addition to introducing legislation, Brent plans to send a letter to all county and independent fairs in Ohio, asking them to prohibit the display of Confederate memorabilia.

The Lorain County Fair is scheduled for August 23-30.

The Fair Board said its response, if any, to the Lorain County Fair Minded Coalition press conference would come in an email to ideastream, but was not available at the time of this story’s publication.

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