Is it possible for a long-standing fair to be, well, unfair? It appears so. An unusual sight greeted visitors to the 158th Northern Maine Fair on Saturday, July 28. A group of 5 pickets were protesting against the Fair for their mistreatment on what appears to be religious grounds.
According to the group’s spokesperson, Csilla Taylor, the Fair was approached by one of the individuals wanting to rent a booth to do Tarot readings. A similar booth was present last year. The inquirer was told there were no booths available by Trustee Carrie Winslow. A few days later, however, a booth was granted to another group for spray tanning.
After raising objections, the Tarot booth was granted permission to open, but at a spot under the grandstand at a cost 6 times more than last year. According to Csilla, the Fair stated that the Tarot booth was inappropriate for the Ladies Pavilion and that it should be by the games. Only retail sales were allowed in the Ladies Pavilion, according to the Fair official. However, it seems a group of Seventh day Adventists have a booth in the Ladies Pavilion and are passing out pamphlets and proselytizing. Not exactly retail sales.
According to Csilla, the picketing group’s purpose is to bring to light the religious injustice and bias that currently exists in Northern Maine. It is there, sometimes subtly, other times blatantly. Is this an example of it? If so, can a call for a boycott of Fair sponsors be far behind? Asking for assistance from the ACLU is being considered. People of all beliefs live in Northern Maine. No one should have to hide in the closet for fear of persecution. Those days should be long gone, even in Northern Maine. Will the Fair Trustees step up and realize they are acting on behalf of ALL of Northern Maine or will they insist on promoting their personal belief system only?
Pagans are part of the community like everyone else. They work, pay taxes, raise children, shop locally supporting local merchants. Equal treatment regardless of religious beliefs should not have to be given a second thought. Wake up Northern Maine!
My prayers go out to all in that area for peace, understanding, and most of all, acceptance of everyone. We are all ONE. Let’s start acting like it.
E-mails to Fair officials have gone unanswered as of this posting. Attempts to contact Frederick Lunt, Jr., Executive Director of the Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs have resulted in rejected returned e-mails for a non-active address.