Confederate Railroad to perform at the Ohio State Fair amid controversy [UPDATE]

Andy Downing
Confederate Railroad

Organizers with the Ohio State Fair have certainly taken notice of recent Ohio election results, which have seen the state growing increasingly red.

This year, the fest is serving up more red meat than the recently concluded Jazz & Rib Fest, including headliners Toby “Boot in Your Ass” Keith, Hank “Compared Obama to Hitler” Williams Jr. and Atlanta-based Confederate Railroad, which has experienced its own controversy as of late, having been barred from performing at the Illinois State Fair earlier this month.

Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, said that the administration prohibits using state resources “to promote symbols of racism,” in reference to the band’s embrace of the Confederate flag, according to a report in USA Today. (The band’s logo includes a steam locomotive flying the Confederate flag, a controversial, divisive symbol that has been criticized as a racist emblem of slavery and segregation.)

Confederate Railroad expressed disappointment in an early July statement released following the cancelation. The band has since scheduled a replacement show at a nearby private venue — Black Diamond Harley-Davidson in Marion, Illinois — on September 5.

The band is still scheduled to perform a free concert on the Ohio State Fair’s Main Street Stage on Thursday, July 25.

An email has been sent to state fair organizers and this post will be updated with any response. 

UPDATE: In 2015, the Ohio State Fair banned the sale of merchandise featuring the Confederate flag.

“The Ohio State Fair has long held a policy that prohibits the sale of merchandise that contains offensive wording, lettering or graphics,” General Manager Virgil L. Strickler wrote in a letter to vendors obtained by the Dispatch in 2015. “As such, beginning with the 2015 Ohio State Fair, the sale or display of confederate flags and/or confederate flag merchandise shall be prohibited. Any vendors found to be selling any items featuring the image of the confederate flag will be asked to promptly remove those items.”

A follow-up email was sent to a spokesperson for the Ohio State Fair asking if this ban extended to concert T-shirts sold by performers. We'll update this post with any reply.