HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Farm Show vendors have been told they can’t sell certain products: those featuring the Confederate flag.
Seven vendors had to take merchandise off their shelves, including Tom Ferguson, owner of Concessions, Ltd.
Engraving might be his specialty, but his shelves are stocked with far more than jewelry.
Ferguson has been setting up shop at the Farm Show for decades. This year, he’s down a few products.
“They run the show,” he said, “so we try to obey.”
The Department of Agriculture told vendors to take down merchandise displaying the Confederate flag.
“Items such as the Confederate flag are not in keeping with the spirit and theme of inclusiveness we’re trying to promote,” the department said in a statement. “In fact, it’s the antithesis of that theme.”
“It’s the political correct thing to do,” Ferguson said.
The ban comes after months of debate over the use of the flag. The man accused of shooting nine people to death in a Charleston, South Carolina church last year posed with the Confederate symbol in photos posted online.
That led to national conversations about what the flag stands for and what it means to different groups.
Ferguson said he gets it, but doesn’t like it. Confederate flag merchandise is a big money-maker, he said, especially at an event like the Farm Show.
“To them, it’s not a prejudice thing,” he said. “It’s not a negative thing. It’s a positive thing for them.”
Either way, he had to take down some shirts and belt buckles.
Vendors appear split over the directive. Two told us, simply, “No comment,” when we asked about it. Another told us the flag is just a piece of history.
Regardless of what *he* thinks, Ferguson scoured the rest of his tables for any items he might have missed.
His Farm Show contract means he abides by what he considers the politically correct rules.
“You can’t blame them,” he said. “That’s the world we’re in.”