Tobacco Advertising Sparks Fair Controversy
An anti-tobacco group fears that the Washington County Fair may accept advertising from a tobacco company to make up for lost revenue.
The Washington County Fair and Rodeo hasn't allowed tobacco advertising since at least 1988, according to a spokesman.
Washington County's Tobacco-Free Coalition puts up $5,000 a year to sponsor the Friendship Square performance stage.
But the coalition is afraid that the fair's board might make a deal next year with Copenhagen smokeless tobacco and allow the company to advertise.
The fair is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association, which mounts and televises rodeos all across the country. Copenhagen is a national sponsor and the fair's contract with the PRCA requires the board to consider the company's offer.
Copenhagen offered to pay $500 this year for the right to hang two banners, but the fair board turned the company down
Next year, Copenhagen is offering $2,500 for the right to hang banners and pass out samples. The fair's director says that the decision won't be about money, but about fairness.
Political speech is no more a stranger at the fair than advertising. The right-to-life movement has a booth, as well as the Republican Party and an anti-smoking group.
The fair director says that her board has to decide when it's alright to muzzle one voice -- and not another.