Group asks Nevada County Fair board to nix Friends of NRA fundraiser | TheUnion.com

Group asks Nevada County Fair board to nix Friends of NRA fundraiser

More than 20 Nevada County residents opposed to a Friends of the NRA fundraiser at the fairgrounds asked the fair board on Tuesday to reconsider allowing the event to take place.

Many of those who spoke during public comment regarding the Nevada County Friends of the NRA set for April 14 stressed the family-friendly nature of the fairgrounds as an inappropriate venue for a gun event.

"I'm a community member and a mother," said organizer Candace Van Patten. "This is an opportunity for you to show the community you respect their concerns."

Van Patten noted that the fundraiser would be raffling off guns, and voiced a concern that many of those in attendance might be carrying weapons.

"This type of gathering does not belong here," she said.

Van Patten and others pointed out that Tall Pines nursery school is on the grounds, and she added that a family festival is planned for the same day.

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"It's just really bad timing," said Steve Temple, who said he grew up hunting and farming and used to have a great deal of respect for the NRA. "The politics today is very divisive."

The timing issue was raised by others, including Avila Lowrance, who asked the board to consider how much the conversation about gun control has changed since the fundraiser's presence at the fairgrounds was approved.

Itara O'Connell said the NRA has ceased to represent its own members in favor of the gun dealers, adding, "It's time to un-friend the NRA."

Several of those opposing the fundraiser told the fair board that the fairgrounds was a highlight of Nevada County life — and said they would have a hard time supporting events there if the board did not cancel the Friends of the NRA even,

"I think you'd be shooting yourself in the foot, no pun intended," said Leonard DiFranco.

According to the Friends of the NRA website, the nonprofit fundraiser is in its 13th year and will feature a catered dinner, an open bar, games, silent and live auctions and special drawings. Proceeds from the event will benefit youth firearm safety and education, range improvements, and Second Amendment education, the site said.

Tickets are $60 per person. Last year, dinner packages of $1,600 and up were being advertised that included firearms.

Nevada County Friends of the NRA committee chairwoman Karen Cose declined to comment and referred questions to the national spokesman, who did not return a call for comment.

The request to cancel the event was not agendized and the board members did not make any response.

Afterward, Van Patten said she would ask the fair administration to call a special board meeting. Fair CEO Rea Callender did not return a call for comment as of presstime.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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