Charles County Fair bans Confederate flags

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the board of the Charles County Fair decided not to allow Confederate flags to be flown or sold at the festivities in a few weeks.

The decision undoes an annual tradition to allow vendors to sell the flags. The symbol has also been on display in an educational booth run by the William Bowling chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

On Tuesday night, the county commission agenda allowed for an item in which commissioners were to discuss asking the fair to remove the flags from this year's fair, but Tuesday's discussion was moot because of the decision made by the fair's board on Monday.

Still, commissioners discussed the fair's decision, mainly to applaud the 22-member fair board for making the decision with input from the NAACP and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Commissioners praised the willingness of the Charles County groups to come to a resolution together.

"I think it's a great thing," said Debra Davis, commissioner from Charles County's District 2. "I think the fact that we can talk and we can make decisions and we can hear each other I think it's awesome. I think it's great."

J.T. Hindle, the fair board president, told FOX 5 the decision was made to ensure that the Confederate flag did not distract from the festivities. Hindle said the plan to scrub the flag from this year's fair has been in the works since last year and was not a direct response to the national battles over Confederate symbols and the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"The Sons of the Confederacy, they took a vote among their members," said Hindle. "They decided not to have the flag. We took a vote last night among the board of directors and you try to get 22 people to agree on everything. Very hard, but we had 22 directors there and all of us voted unanimously to not have it."

Hindle said the safety of fairgoers was the board's number one concern.

Commissioners did not have public comment on the agenda at Tuesday night's meeting, so the flag discussion was contained among themselves.

Hindle said the Confederate flag is not allowed to be sold, displayed or carried into the fairgrounds. The fair will not ban people from wearing clothing containing the flag.

The Charles County Fair runs from Sept. 14 to 17.