New York Fair Boots Confederate Railroad From Lineup After Petition
Southern rock band Confederate Railroad have been removed from the lineup at another fair, this time in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. Ulster County officials made the announcement after residents petitioned the issue.
Confederate Railroad were scheduled to perform at the Ulster County Fair on Aug. 1. However, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced the performance's cancellation on Thursday (July 25), just one week before the show, according to the Associated Press. According to Ryan, the decision is in opposition of the band's use of the Confederate flag, "a symbol of division and racism."
Tom O'Dowd started a Change.org petition about the issue on Wednesday (July 24), asking the Ulster County Agricultural Society, the organizers of the annual Ulster County Fair, to cancel Confederate Railroad's performance. "The Ulster County Ag Society needs to denounce this blatant racism and cancel this band! Confederate symbols in the band name and posters (to say nothing of confederate merchandise at the fair) is traumatizing to many people especially people of color," he writes in the petition. "These symbols are also simply the opposite of patriotic! Let them know this band is not representative of our values!"
As of publication time, O'Dowd's petition has received 331 signatures. However, according to the Hudson Valley Post, March Gallagher, a candidate for Ulster County comptroller, also set a letter to Ulster County officials asking that Confederate Railroad's performance be canceled.
"Display and sale of the confederate flag is deeply offensive to people of color and their allies," she explains. "There are many ways to share and appreciate county, rural and agricultural themes and ideas without paying homage to a dehumanizing symbol."
According to the Daily Freeman, Ryan had also asked that Confederate Railroad's Ulster County Fair performance be canceled in a letter to the Ulster County Agricultural Society on Tuesday (July 23). The society's license to use the county fairgrounds, he explains, prohibits the sale of merchandise depicting the confederate flag, which is part of Confederate Railroad's logo.
"County resources should not be used to promote symbols of division or racism," Ryan's office says in a statement. "Many people view the confederate flag as exactly this and would therefore not feel welcome at our county fair, a place where everyone should feel welcome.”
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In early July, Confederate Railroad were removed from the lineup at the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois for the same reason. "While every artists has a right to expression," says Du Quoin State Fair Manager Josh Gross, "we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all of the people in our state."
"[Our removal from the show] was very disappointing, as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much," says band member Danny Shirley of the decision. However, he adds, "The outpouring of support from Confederate Railroad fans, fans of other acts, and the public in general, has been both overwhelming and very much appreciated. I would also like to thank the actors, athletes and fellow country music artists who have spoken out in support."
Formed in Marietta, Ga., in 1987, Confederate Railroad are best known for their early '90s Top 10 hits "Queen of Memphis," "Trashy Women" and others. Their first two albums, 1992's Confederate Railroad and 1994's Notorious, are certified double-platinum and platinum, respectively.
Confederate Railroad's last record, Lucky to Be Alive, was released in 2016. In 2018, founding member Wayne Secrest died after a long illness. He had retired from the road in late 2017.
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