HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - A controversial group has been banned from a popular festival next month.
The Virginia Flaggers, a group that says it supports Confederate heritage, along with several other Confederate groups, believe they were denied renting a booth because of political reasons.
Field Day of the Past organizers say the Virginia Flaggers didn’t follow the rules of the event, and some members of the community are backing that decision. The Virginia Flaggers are now calling for a boycott of the event.
The Virginia Flaggers have rented a booth at Field Day of the Past, a local fundraising event that honors history, for the past two years and have passed out pamphlets, stickers and other items supporting their beliefs. But come September, the Flaggers will not be attending Field Day of the Past, which draws about 40,000 people, according to the event’s website.
“They say they didn’t want us to come back. They wouldn’t rent us a booth,” Barry Isenhour, a member of the Virginia Flaggers, said.
Isenhour says the Flaggers were given conflicting reasons by organizers - everything from being accused of passing out stickers beyond their designated area to the group’s van being an issue to ultimately being called a political organization.
"They kept changing back and forth … saying that we are not a heritage group, that we’re a political group,” Isenhour said.
Field Day of the Past organizers sent NBC12 a statement saying they've had problems with the Flaggers and other groups repeatedly not abiding by the written guidelines, like keeping merchandise within their assigned space.
Isenhour admits the Virginia Flaggers had handed out stickers beyond its stand and some of those stickers ended up on portable bathrooms.
But, Isenhour said, the Flaggers agreed to only pass out stickers at their booth and to not bring its van. But he said efforts to compromise with event organizers were to no avail.
Now, the Flaggers are calling for a boycott of Field Day of the Past. A social media post made by the Virginia Flaggers was shared more than 500 times.
“They keep coming at us like somehow our heritage is different from somebody else’s heritage," Isenhour said. "We’re Southerners, and this is our heritage. And so we don’t understand why they would discriminate against us with our Confederate flags and Confederate stickers, and our pamphlets, etc.”
A slew of comments both supporting and criticizing Field Day of the Past’s decision can be seen on the event’s Facebook page.
"We have to move toward the future and let that negative past go,” Hanover resident Shannon Spiggle said.
Spiggle said she and many others don’t believe it’s possible to separate Confederate heritage from the hate of slavery in the Civil War era.
“It’s a duty for our future community to be more inclusive and not use these symbols of the past to intimidate or exclude our community,” Spiggle said.
The event’s organizers say they have several Confederate displays to recognize that part of American history.
Field Day of the Past full statement can be seen below:
“For several years, Field Day of the Past has had problems with two arts and crafts vendors who have repeatedly been asked to abide by our written guidelines to remain within their assigned spaces with all of their merchandise. These two vendors have consistently disregarded these guidelines. The decision to not invite them back in 2019 was based solely on the fact that these groups will not comply.
The implication that Field Day of the Past is abandoning any and all representation of our Confederate history is incorrect. The Wickham SCV Camp, Richmond Discoveries’ Civil War Camp and Hoytt Hill’s Civil War Medical Display will be in attendance.
We look forward to sharing the hundreds of years of our southern history with our attendees in 2019.”
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