Fair officials retract statement on Confederate flag merchandise sales
Alaska State Fair officials have retracted their statement about Confederate flag merchandise sales on fair grounds.
One vendor at the fair sells Confederate flag items. He respectfully declined to do an interview with KTVA.
When KTVA contacted fair officials about their policy on the vendor's items on Tuesday, they also declined an interview request but pointed to their vendor handbook. On page seven, it states, "Fair management maintains the right to prohibit the sale or distribution of any product or service it deems hazardous, offensive or a nuisance to the public. Martial art stars and weapons, offensive or sexually explicit items, silly string and/or caps/popping devices may not be sold."
"The vendor in question was found in violation and asked to take it down and cease sales," a spokesperson for the state fair issued in a written statement. "The complete Vendor Policy handbook has been on the fair website since March 2."
However, on Wednesday, marketing director Dean Phipps clarified the vendor was not ordered or asked to cease sales. Phipps told KTVA the flag was taken down as a personal favor to the vendor manager. Phipps said the vendor was not in violation of any state fair policies.
State fair boards in the Lower 48 have taken steps to work with vendors on getting policies, regarding the Confederate flag, or items that hold its image. For example, the New York State Fair has a policy from 2015 that seeks "voluntary compliance" where vendors will agree to not have merchandise with images of the Confederate flag or symbols that may offend others, according to Syracuse.com.
In Indiana, state fair officials also contacted vendors asking them to not sell items with the Confederate flag, according to The IndyStar.
Sharon Miller, an Anchorage resident who attended the fair, says she stands by the vendor at the Alaska State Fair who sells Confederate flag merchandise.
Miller says, to her, the Confederate flag symbolizes history. The ongoing national debate over the symbol, she says, is heartbreaking.
"Have a discussion," she said. "Agree to disagree, but cut out the violence."
Bethany Easaw, a Juneau resident who attended the fair, said while the image doesn't resonate well with her, she understands people have their own opinions.
"I see it as kind of like disrespectful knowing what's going on," she said. "But then there's people who don't see it as that way."