• Post last modified:February 9, 2024
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Hateful Messages at Hebron Harvest Fair

Since September 2022, CoDE has been voicing its outrage and concern about at least one vendor at the Hebron Harvest Fair prominently displaying Confederate Flags and other materials that contained hate messages with Fair Administrators and town leaders. CoDE researched how other Fairs have acted to prevent such materials from being displayed and sold and have shared that information with the Fair Administrators, asking for similar changes to the Hebron Harvest Fair Rules and regulations for Vendors.

On June 10th, the rules were revised by the Hebron Lions. CoDE commends the Lions for making these changes, and asks that the Confederate Flag (and all items bearing its likeness) be specifically included as items not allowed to be displayed or offered for sale by vendors tat the Fair. Below are the statements provided by CoDE during two Planning and Zoning Commission meetings at which this issue was raised. 

Statement by Coalition on Diversity & Equity (CoDE) 6/13/2023:

As we all know, the Hebron Harvest Fair brings thousands of visitors to our town each year. It is an opportunity to show residents (including children and families) as well as visitors from other communities what a wonderful (and welcoming) community Hebron is. An opportunity to show off – to be on our best behavior.

Vendors at the Hebron Harvest Fair flying confederate flags is not our best behavior. It is not welcoming. Just the opposite ─ it is offensive and divisive. The Confederate flag is recognized as a symbol of hate, oppression, and white supremacy. It was the flag flown by those who fought to preserve the enslavement of millions of Black Americans. The Confederate flag was rarely flown from the end of the Civil War until the 1950s. After that, some white Americans and southern state governments began to fly the flag in protest of the civil rights movement to end segregation.

Tonight’s review of the Lions application for a license to sell alcoholic beverages at the Fair brings up the issue of alcohol’s inflaming effect on hateful, divisive behavior.
We appreciate that there is language in the Fair Vendor agreement restricting the display or sale of items that are “illegal or considered to be dangerous, vulgar, obscene, hateful, or not in good taste for a family oriented fair.” That’s a good beginning. But it was not strong enough to deter vendors from flying Confederate Flags in their booth last year. AND when these vendors were told they could not display the Confederate flag, they moved other items bearing its likeness to the front of their booth instead, with no consequences.

We believe that stronger and more specific language is required…to make a statement about what Hebron will tolerate and what it will not tolerate. To ensure that the Fair is safe, and that Hebron is seen as a welcoming community for all. This is what the Durham Fair – the largest agricultural Fair in the state does….as well as fairs in New York State, Ohio, Mississippi and Kentucky, as well as NASCAR.

We have provided suggested language to the Fair Administrators to strengthen its Vendor Agreement, as well as all of the research we have done into what other Fairs are doing. And we are ready to continue to work with them to see how this issue can be resolved.in a positive way. We love the Hebron Harvest Fair and want very much for it to be the best representation of Hebron possible.

Statement by Coalition on Diversity & Equity (CoDE) 6/27/2023:

As we expressed during the last PZC meeting, we have been urging the Lions to revise its rules for Vendors at the Hebron Harvest Fair to expressly prohibit the display and sale of items that contain hateful messages including the Confederate flag, which is recognized as a symbol of hate, oppression, and white supremacy.

We have read the recently-revised Rules and Regulations for Vendors, and commend the Lions for making these needed changes. The language is much more proactive about what can and cannot be displayed or sold at the Fair, which is excellent. It says that “no Vendor or Exhibitor shall offer for sale or display, any article that is illegal or considered to be dangerous, vulgar, obscene, hateful, or not in good taste for a family oriented fair.” This shows a good faith effort to prevent the type of behavior we saw at the Fair last year.

However, we feel strongly that Confederate flags should be specifically cited as one example of hateful materials, and therefore not allowed to be sold or displayed by vendors. We believe that this is necessary to avoid what happened in the past. It is also necessary because currently the rules leave it up to the Superintendent of Concessions to determine what materials are hateful, vulgar, or obscene. There should be no room for personal discretion on this matter. It would also make a clear and powerful statement about Hebron and its commitment to being a welcoming and safe community for all.

Again, other states and fairs have specifically banned the Confederate flag, and items bearing its likeness, from being displayed or sold by vendors or businesses. Hebron should do the same.

We also ask that the Lions be vigilant during the Fair this year in order to ensure that vendors do not display or offer for sale these items that are hateful, obscene, dangerous or not in good taste. We ask that the Superintendent of Concessions act swiftly in accordance with their Rules and Regulations to have such items removed and if not heeded, to have the vendor removed from the Fair.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Concerned Citizen

    I believe the whole meeting was a person of authority trying to push a personal agenda. The meeting was to approve a Beer and Wine permit, in which this commission has done so for the last 7 years without incident. As stated in Mr. Johnson’s opening statement the Lions wish to remain neutral on such matters and pushing him to agree to their beliefs came across as nothing more than bullying.

    1. donna

      CoDE believes that the Lions have a responsibility to do all they can to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for guests at the Hebron Harvest Fair. We also believe that the Lions are in agreement and that is why they made the changes they did to the Vendor Agreement.

  2. Concerned Citizen Too

    This was an epic failure of an elected official to try and use quid pro quo to push their personal feelings on a private organization. This was quite a violation of govt overreach. This group should be ashamed of themselves. How would any of these “members” of coDe like it if someone came into their house and said I find the color of your walls offensive and I’m demanding you to change the color of your walls.

    Ironically this group uses the pretense of diversity and equity but actually bully’s others to try and get their way.

    1. donna

      The Lions revised its Rules and Regulations for Vendors on June 10, 2023. Again, we applaud them for doing so. We have expressed our concerns and made recommendations to them directly since September 2022. We provided our reasons for the changes we were recommending and also sample language used by other fairs. All along, we have been respectful and asked for face to face meetings. The issue of allowing hateful messages to be displayed and offered for sale at the Fair is a community issue, not just affecting the Lions. The comments by the Lions’ representative during the public meeting demonstrate that they understand this as well, and that the changes they have made are designed to keep hateful messages out of the Fair. While we would like more specificity about the types of materials that are not allowed, we are grateful to the Lions for the actions they have taken.

  3. Ann Onomous

    I applaud the work CoDE has done and its members should be very proud. I might be missing the “big picture”, but it seems your accomplishments to date are as follows:
    1. You promoted events that could have ruined the life of a teenager for the violent, vicious crime of tying a piece of paracord, and
    2. Harassing the local chapter of the number one service organization in the world, the Hebron Lions that has donated millions to local charities over the last 50+ years.

    What’s next? Burning down the foodbank? You all sound like wonderful people doing the Lord’s work.

    God Bless!

    1. donna

      CoDE has many accomplishments including a beautiful Juneteenth Celebration attended by more than 650 people and over 11 community conversations on issues ranging from equity from a faith perspective to voices of young people. The rally you mentioned was attended by community members, students and families and was held to show that Hebron is a welcoming community and that love is stronger than hate (to support the students and parents affected by that hateful act at the school). Regarding the situation at the Fair, CoDE did not harass the Lions but shared our concerns in a respectful and collaborative way. And in fact, we praised the Lions for producing a Fair that we and our families have participated in as volunteers, attended and enjoyed over the years — and for all they do for the community. If you (or anyone) would like to know more about CoDE, we would be happy to sit down with you and have a conversation.

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