Calgary Stampede asks vendors to stop selling belt buckles, licence plates with Confederate flag

At least two vendors at the Calgary Stampede market have been asked not to sell items containing the Confederate flag after controversy in recent weeks associated with the symbol.

On Saturday, two vendors had items for sale containing the flag, which is considered by many to have pro-slavery and racist associations.

Armies of southern states that seceded from the United States during the Civil War originally flew the flag. Debate about its implications resurfaced last month after the deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina because of photos of the alleged gunman in the incident, Dylann Roof, posing with the flag.

“I didn’t even know about the controversy,” said Paul Hazen, operating a booth called The Old Sign Shop on Saturday in the market.

A licence plate for sale at his booth displayed the flag, along with the words “Trailer Trash” written across.

Identical plates were hidden behind other ones at his booth. Hazen said the visible one was on display due to an error.

Sammy Hudes / Calgary HeraldA license plate containing the Confederate flag that was for sale Saturday at The Old Sign Shop, a vendor at the Calgary Stampede market.
“My son put it up by mistake,” he said. “Actually I hid all the Confederate flags. That’s actually not supposed to be there. The Calgary Stampede asked me not to put it up, or I could put up but kind of disguise it… or see if I could censor it or something.”

A license plate containing the Confederate flag that was for sale Saturday at The Old Sign Shop, a vendor at the Calgary Stampede market.

Hazen immediately removed the plate when approached by the Herald.

The flag is also the design of a belt buckle at a vendor’s booth called “My Favourite Belts & Buckles.”

The manager of the booth, Max, who declined to give his last name, also said it had been on display by error, but wouldn’t say if he’d take it down.

“It just sort of happened to be there,” he said. “I think I don’t want them on the table. If it’s there on the table it happened by mistake… I had a few and I changed my mind about that. I didn’t want to put them out and it just happened.”

Max said he will decide on whether to keep the buckle for sale.

As of Sunday evening, both vendors appeared to have removed the items from sale.

Stampede spokesperson Kurt Kadatz said officials previously approached two vendors that had merchandise for sale containing the flag.

The Stampede asked them to remove the items on Thursday during the Stampede sneak-a-peek show.

“Some of our staff noticed these items and then just approached the vendors directly,” said Kadatz.

He said of the two vendors that the Stampede dealt with, one is possibly an overlap in the cases at hand.

Kadatz said the Stampede deals with items deemed offensive or in poor taste on a case-by-case basis.

“We don’t have a policy on paper particularly on the Confederate flag,” Kadatz said. “It’s changed within the last year,” he said of the symbol’s reputation. “This is the first time we saw it and we suggested they take it off.”

On Sunday evening, a collectible miniature guitar with parts of the Confederate flag displayed on the front was seen hanging on the wall of the Pylon Pop Culture booth in the market.

Too bad because it’s a good seller
A man behind the counter, who declined to give his name, said he had no plans to remove the guitar as he doesn’t see it as a confederate flag but an item decorated with elements of the flag.

“It’s really just a segment of the flag,” he said. “They’re replicated after specific guitars from famous people. I think it’s something that the artists themselves, it’s part of who they are, and I don’t know what their mindset is on the why and how they have it.”

He added the vendor used to sell Confederate flag buckles, but pulled them from the shelves years ago.

Hazen said the Confederate flag design is a popular item at his booth.

“Too bad because it’s a good seller,” he said. “People like it, I don’t even know about it.”

– With files from Clara Ho, Calgary Herald

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