CARBONDALE — The Du Quoin State Fair has come under fire after taking the band Confederate Railroad off the line up, reportedly because of their use of Confederate imagery.
The Southern Illinoisan reported on Monday that a Facebook group called #boycottduquoinstatefair has reached more than 2,400 members in four days, with members discussing their frustration with the cancellation and plan their protest.
From The Southern Illinoisan:
The cancellation was first acknowledged by Du Quoin State Fair Manager Josh Gross in a statement to the Du Quoin Weekly.
“The Illinois Department of Agriculture has removed Confederate Railroad from our 2019 Du Quoin State Fair Grandstand lineup,” he said. “While every artist has a right to expression, we believe this decision is in the best interest of serving all of the people in our state.”
That comment has led many to infer that the decision was made by Illinois Department of Agriculture leaders in Springfield, and not by local employees. The Department of Ag manages the two annual state fairs in Illinois.
When reached for comment, the department declined to confirm when the band was booked, who decided to cancel it, why the band was removed, or whether the band will still be paid.
Larry Dean Basler, of Marion, learned of the cancellation from the Du Quoin Weekly newspaper story. He started #boycottduquoinstatefair on July 4, expecting just a few dozen friends to join.
“I never thought it would explode the way it has,” he said, as musicians like Joe Bonsall and Charlie Daniels, plus national conservative commentators like Todd Starnes, used their platforms to condemn the cancellation.
WICS/WRSP in Springfield reported that Confederate Railroad has issued a statement in response:
“As many of you know, we were scheduled to perform at the Illinois State Fair in Du Quoin, Illinois on August 27, along with our friends Restless Heart and Shenandoah. We have since been removed from that show by the Illinois Department of Agriculture because of the name of our band. This was very disappointing as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much. 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. It has been brought to my attention that several people have asked both Restless Heart and Shenandoah to cancel their shows in protest of our cancellation. I have spoken to both acts and encouraged them to perform as scheduled. Live concerts are how we pay our bills and feed our families. I would never want to see another act lose a payday because of this. Please go out to hear these two great bands. As I have said many times onstage, I am by no means a saint but, I am a man of faith and I have faith that God will see us through this as well as whatever comes next! Thank you for your support.”
-Danny Shirley, Confederate Railroad
The TV station also this statement from the Illinois governor’s office:
“The Confederate flag is a symbol of the hate, oppression and enslavement of African Americans. It was flown over states that committed treason and started a war – so that they could keep enslaving people. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in this fight over whether the nation should allow slavery or end it. Abraham Lincoln’s assassin was a disciple of the Confederacy. In short, the Confederate flag symbolizes slavery and the rebellion against the United States, and it is exactly what our state’s greatest son, President Lincoln, was fighting against.”