Flag blanket

Numerous vendors sell confederate flag merchandise each year at the Athens County Fair.

Note: This story appears in the Tuesday, Nov. 5 newspaper on Page A1.

Confederate merchandise will remain welcome for sale at the Athens County Fair.

A vast majority of Athens County Agricultural Society members rejected a proposed ban on such merchandise through a vote this past Saturday.

The group had considered changing its vendor policy after receiving some criticism about Confederate items being for sale at the latest fair in August.

The Athens County Commissioners and Athens Mayor Steve Patterson were among local officials who had urged a change be made.

In the end, 124 members voted against the proposed ban, with just 33 members voting in favor. For at least the 2020 fair, the confederate merchandise will stay.

The vote was available to all dues-paying members of the Agricultural Society. Members gathered Nov. 2 for a meeting to elect new directors and decide on the proposed vendor policy change.

Members elected Calvin Jarvis as Society president; David Christman as vice president; Scott Rawlins as secretary; and Ben Abfall as treasurer.

Jarvis and Christman will flip spots, having previously been the vice president and president, respectively.

Jarvis, the new president, did not respond to a Messenger request for comment on Monday about the confederate vote.

In an October interview, Christman told The Messenger he was “sick” of hearing about the subject and declined to say how he would vote.

“I don’t understand how people have to peck and get a wrong answer out of you,” he said. “I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no ... I’ll vote how I feel that day.”

The subject has been controversial on social media this year, with Messenger stories on the topic often generating hundreds of Facebook comments on either side.

Confederate merchandise is already banned at the Ohio State Fair, among other places.

The fair board’s next monthly meeting is tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. at the Secretary’s Office on the fairgrounds. It will next meet on Dec. 3 and

Jan. 7, 2020.

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