The management of the McHenry County Fair apparently has a problem with religious-based exhibitors.
The Association has notified a number of exhibitors with a religious bent that they will be removed from their past locations, where the general public walked by, to a separate location.
First it was a tent large enough for eight…or, larger, if more wanted in.
It was called a “faith tent.”
When objections were made that the general public would be less likely to enter such a special purpose tent, management told the Christian-sponsored groups that they would be put in the building next to the two commercial buildings. (It’s the one with the worst air conditioning.)
They would still be segregated and isolated from most of the foot traffic.
And the building has the lease air conditioning.
It’s the one the booths for the County Historical Society and Environmental Defenders have been in previous years.
The Fair’s problem with religious groups first popped up in 2011.
A new exhibitor called “Peter’s Net” set up an attractive booth with the intent of influencing your girls not to get abortions.
Across the aisle was a booth trying to get teenage girls’ email addresses.
To its dismay, teens were more interested in viewing the fetal models than whatever the booth across the way was pitching.
The man who oversees the booths came around and told the women at the Pro-Life booth that the people manning the other booth were aggravated at the Pro-Lifer’s success.
Since then there have been attempts by the Fair Association management to thwart the effectiveness of the three Pro-Life booths.
In 2011, new exhibitor “Peter’s Net” set up an attractive booth with the intent of influencing your girls not to get abortions
Judy Cocks, Exec. with 1st Way Pregnancy Center in Johnsburg, wrote the following:
1st Way is finding ourselves involved in an unfortunate situation with the McHenry County Fair.
When we received our contract this year, the fair committee had moved us to the “faith tent”.
When I called and spoke to a secretary at the fair grounds, I was told that the fair committee just want to make the “fair run more smoothly” and so the moved some exhibitors.
I asked if anyone had ever complained about us and was told no.
I told them that if we were put into the faith tent, we would not participate and that I would write a letter to the NWH.
I told the secretary that if we were segregated, we would basically be preaching the choir and it would not be profitable to us to come to get our message out.
We have participated for the last 13 years consecutively and been in the same location.
Well, since then, the fair committee has tried to walk this decision back, but not completely.
They changed the name of the “faith tent” to the “informational tent” (which only had 8 spaces).
Now, after lasts night’s fair committee meeting, they decided to bring us into building E, which houses the Historical Society.
I called today to ask who would be in that building and was told that
- Deanery Right to Life
- the Gideons
- Peter’s Net
The Diaper Bank may be there also, but has not signed up yet.
Here’s the deal, I don’t care what they call us.
If they decide to segregate exhibitors by faith, then they are discriminating on the basis of faith.
I have asked to speak before a committee meeting.
The Thomas Moore Society has contacted me and they are writing a letter to the fair on behalf of Peter’s Net.
I would like to reach out to churches that have participated and see if their fair location has been moved.
This, coupled with SB 1564 is forcing us to not keep operating below the radar, which has basically been our mode of operation in the past.
Here’s an article about the four booths related to abortion at the 2012 County Fair.
In 2014 the ratio of Pro-Life to Pro-Choice booths continued to be 3 to 1.
The same participants were there in 2014.
All competing equally in the public forum.
The McHenry County Citizens for Choice booth is not scheduled to be forced into the religious ghetto.