Fairness at the Fair

The Iowa County Fair is arguably the largest event in the county. Thousands of families pass through the gates to ride the rides, see the prize-winning ducks, sheep and cows, and see the entertainment.

Our local Action Network paid for a booth in the exhibit hall, next to the Democrats, across from the Republicans, and just down the aisle from a group raising money for a new horse arena. For four days, we talked to fair goers about the ban, passed out buttons and bumper-stickers and literature, and enjoyed the fair.

The Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage had a different plan. Rather than play by the long-established rules of the fair (ie securing a booth in the exhibit hall), their volunteers simply showed up, wearing deceptively printed t-shirts which read “Fair Worker.” They then stood at the front gate, next to the ticket takers, and handed brochures to every car entering the fairgrounds.

The ticket takers, being bona-fide volunteer fair workers themselves, didn’t know anything was amiss and didn’t know what was in the brochures, until the fair office started hearing complaints. And then more complaints. The fair commissioners asked the faux “fair workers” to leave. They refused. The Mineral Point police were called, and the problem was resolved.

I only learned of all this after it had been resolved, upon speaking with Iowa County Fair Commissioner Phil Crawford. Phil said the group would have been welcome to pay their fee and secure exhibit space like anyone else, but the fair commission has never allowed anyone to distribute any kind of literature at the fair gates, or on the fair grounds themselves. “It’s just not appropriate,” he said. “People are coming to see the pigs and the chickens, not to be confronted by any political campaign.”


At 9:22 AM, Blogger Paul said...

It's clear that the supporters of this amendment don't have the organizational skills or financial resources that we do. Otherwise, they too would have played by the rules.



At 9:30 AM, Anonymous todd said...

Paul, You're more benevolent than me. I think it's clear that organized ban supporters frequently and deliberately avoid playing by the rules. As just one example: they do have financial resources, but they don't report them. This action at the fair seems exemplary of their m.o.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Mike Fitzpatrick said...

A friend of mine who attended the Brown County Fair here last month told me that she was approached in the parking lot area of the fairgrounds by ban supporters also.
In response to motivation - either lack of organization or purposeful "stealth" campaign - I'd say "both."
One question I have: Did the local action network verify that it was truly Julaine Appling's people at the gate? That tactic sounds more like one of Ralph Ovadal's. Since Ralph brags about his so-called ministerial "conquests" after the fact on his website, if his folks were the peddlers, we'll find out soon!
Remember too, Fair Wisconsin has done an excellent job of making a "No" vote the "socially correct" choice at the ballot box. That means a "Yes" vote is the "unfair" or "anti-social" decision.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

This is exactly the kind of thing the media needs to hear about so that everyone in Wisconsin will know how low these people will stoop.

At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coleman, This is something that should be in every paper in the state. If you can confirm the group behind this tactic I'll be happy to help flood the local papers.

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

This should absolutely be publicized in the media. Has anyone contacted the Mineral Point police to find out whether anyone's name appeared in the report? (That's public information and can't be kept secret.) With that information, perhaps it can be determined for sure who these people were. Then we can give them the publicity they deserve.


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