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While not taking position, York Fair discourages sale of items with image of Confederate flag

Written by Dylan Segelbaum, York Daily Record | Sep 14, 2015 3:15 PM
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Customers check out T-shirts available at a stand at the 250th York Fair on Saturday. Some of the shirts with Confederate flags on them have been covered with a strip of duct tape. (Eileen Joyce, Daily Record / Sunday News)

(York) -- Simon Zarad sells T-shirts at fairs across Pennsylvania and, at the height of this summer, was moving at least 300 with the image of the Confederate flag on them during an event.

They were "selling like crazy," he said, following calls across the United States for people to take down the flag. Those came after a white man in June shot and killed nine black parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. But now, Zarad said, he might sell one per day.

"It was a big issue a few months ago," said Zarad, 47, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Though he believes vendors should be able to sell the items, he'd taken down most of his T-shirts with the flag on them by the second day of the York Fair. "I think it's over."

At the 250th York Fair, of the hundreds of vendors selling everything from deep-fried shark skewers to Tupperware, only a handful have items with the Confederate flag on them. Some of the people selling the products -- T-shirts, license plates, stickers -- say they don't have a personal position on the flag, but believe they should be able to hawk the items.

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A Confederate flag design on display at a booth offering airbrushed T-shirts and license plates at the York Fair. Out of the thousands of designs, only two contain the design. The owners said they'd take down the items, if asked. (Eileen Joyce -- Daily Record/Sunday News)

Meanwhile, Gene Schenck, a spokesman for the York Fair, said though it does not have a position on the flag either, organizers have taken steps to make sure nobody is offended.

"We try to work all year to make the fair fun, and get people to come," Schenck said. "We're just trying to do whatever we can do not to create a controversy."

He said organizers have asked vendors to not openly display items with the flag on them, and most have complied. Though events such as the Ohio State Fair have banned the sale of those products, no such policy has been put into effect here.

The mission of the York Fair, Schenck said, is to promote agriculture and youth development. And the organization "has no business in the political realm."

At a stand that was selling airbrushed T-shirts and license plate holders, Beverly Marsden said she and her husband haven't run into any problems this year about the design.

They go to more than 20 carnivals and fairs in the Philadelphia and Reading area, where they're from.

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More T-shirts on display at the York Fair that contain the pattern of the Confederate flag. Of the hundreds of vendors at the event, only a few are selling products with the design on them. (Eileen Joyce -- Daily Record/Sunday News)

The stand, which offers thousands of designs, only has two with the Confederate flag on them: A license plate holder, and a T-shirt design with two hearts on which the pattern is overlaid.

"There are some people who like the Rebel Flag," said Marsden, 62, adding she would take down the items if asked. "People want to make a political issue out of it."

Contact Dylan Segelbaum at 771-2102.


Also of interest 

Some Americans refuse to give up on Confederate flag

Why do some in York County fly the Confederate flag?

Confederate flag praised by group of demonstrators in Gettysburg

Police: Confederate flag burnt outside Hanover gas station

Hanover flag manufacturer stops selling Confederate flags

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