WOOSTER, Ohio (WJW) — The Wayne County Fair has been part of the fabric of Wooster and surrounding communities since 1850, and many students take part in the fair, showcasing their talents in everything from art to music to 4-H.
“We were requiring our students’ attendance and participation at the fair, knowing that many of our students were struggling with the environment,” said Wooster City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Tefs.
The superintendent says some students have indicated they are uncomfortable at the fair, because of the display and sale of Confederate flags, which the Wayne County Fair Board has been unwilling to ban.
“For some, it’s deep seeded racism, but for most of it, it’s just a connotation and an image of hate,” Tefs said.
In response, the Wooster Board of Education is now considering a resolution that would ban fair advertising within the school district, and stop the distribution of fair tickets to students.
The superintendent says the district is taking the step, as part of a new policy of taking direct action to combat racism.
“When we say that we do not tolerate hate and racism in our learning spaces, we’re proving that today,” said Tefs.
The superintendent says if the resolution passes, it will be up to individual students and their families to decide if they will continue to go to the fair.
“I think what we have a right to do, is to say that we’re not going to require you to go, we’re not going to put you on a bus and take you there, and we’re not going to endorse and market the fair,” said Tefs.
Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have been demonstrating in downtown Wooster throughout the month of June, and protesters are also demanding that the fair board ban confederate flags.
“It’s a symbol that divides, that hurts, that causes effect on people, and so I think that it’s definitely a symbol that should be banned by the fair board and should not be allowed to be sold or displayed by the folks at the booths,” said Desiree Weber.
The Wooster School Board is scheduled to vote on the new resolution on Tuesday night. The fair board has not commented on the controversy.