As Lorain County fair season approaches, the issue of selling the Confederate flag has again popped up.
A group of organizers will hold an event at a local farm to let the Fair Board know it holds to its position that the Confederate flag should not be sold.
Jeanine Donaldson, head of the Fair-minded Coalition of Lorain County and executive director of the Lorain and Elyria YWCAs, called the flag "America's most enduring symbol of hate." The Confederate flag has been viewed as a symbol of white supremacy in recent years.
The fight to remove the sale of the flag from the fair has gone on for four years. The Fair-minded Coalition put up three billboards last year to protest the flag's sales, and this year they've put up four.
The billboards say "Honor America, do not sell the Confederate flag at our Lorain County Fair." Last year, some of those billboards were covered by a Confederate flag and a couple protesters took to the sidewalk outside of the Elyria YWCA building.
Yard signs alsohave been put up across the county.
"If this Confederate flag wasn't controversial, we wouldn't have these issues," Donaldson said Monday.
She has asked to have a discussion with the Fair Board about the sale of the flag, but she said she has never heard back from any members.
Kim Meyers, chairman of the Fair Board's midway and concessions committee said "nothing has changed." The fair will continue to sell the Confederate flag and he does not anticipate any changes.
Meyers said fair officials have never had a problem with the sale and that "it's been something politicians have brought up," like Commissioner Matt Lundy and others, Meyers said.
In 2015, Lundy urged the Fair Board to ban the sale of Confederate flags after he saw it during a visit to the fair. One vendor still sells the flag. Meyers said it is a retired Vietnam veteran who sells a variety of items, including sports flags and memorabilia.
Nathan Russell, senior pastor of Washington Avenue Christian Church in Elyria, said there's been a revision in history about the Confederate flag and "the hate it enshrines in its stars and bars."
"We can't move into a post-civil rights world until we acknowledge that the hate the Confederate flag represents is still alive and well in the United States of America," Russell said.
The Ohio State Fair no longer sells the flag, but the Ohio Fair Managers Association, a separate entity, voted to allow the Confederate flag several years ago.
Ron Pickworth, president of the Fair Board, said the board believes residents have a right to sell Civil War memorabilia.
"We still believe in freedom of speech," he said. "I'm sorry this issue keeps coming up."
Donaldson said the fair has outlined family-friendly as one of its values, and that the sale of the Confederate flag contradicts that.
"Our Fair Board chooses to believe it's not controversial," she said. "... They're running afoul of what they believe in this instance."
The event, which will include entertainment, will be on Aug. 20 during the Foreigner concert at the fair.
It is at Black River Organics Farm, 18369 state Route 58, Wellington, run by Chet Bowling.
FILE -- 2018 Corey Helmling, right, of Elyria, walks through the Lorain County Fair with a newly purchased Confederate flag, alongside his friend, Curtis Toth, of LaGrange, on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. Helmling said that to him the flag stands for "Stand your ground. Don't back down."
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