Keep in mind benefits of Nevada County Fair |

Keep in mind benefits of Nevada County Fair

The Nevada County Fair has traditionally united our community with five days of thrills, culture, sugar-laced treats, monster trucks and carnival games.

It has served as an annual beacon for all to join together for one last hurrah before children head back to school and everyone else buckles back into the ins and outs of everyday life.

But this year, as volunteers, vendors, nonprofits and many more prepare for the Wednesday opening, the 2013 version of the Nevada County Fair is mired in controversy prompting individuals, groups and businesses to draw lines in the sand.

The introduction of elephant rides to this year’s fair, provided under heavy scrutiny by Have Trunk, Will Travel, has spurred opponents of the organization and its perceived poor treatment of elephants to threaten boycotts and on-site protests.

Some will boycott the elephant rides only, while others will skip the fair entirely.

It is everyone’s right to speak their mind and abide by any belief system they choose. It’s one of the rights that makes this a free society and a right we all hold dear. But with that, it is important to know the impact of a boycott.

Those who decide to boycott the fair entirely are turning their backs on the 75 nonprofits that will be in attendance this year, including the 34 nonprofits on Treat Street. Treat Street brings in anywhere from $300,000 to $600,000 each year, and that money is infused directly into our community, Nevada County Fair CEO Sandy Woods said.

“It’s probably the largest fundraising event in our community,” she said. “The economic impact is huge.”

Last year’s Treat Street totaled $610,247 in food sales.

This year, the nonprofits that will benefit include the Knights of Columbus and its food booth on Treat Street. Funds raised at that booth go to the Interfaith Food Ministry and others helping those in need. Treat Street will also feature Sidecar Scooter Angel Paws, Living Well Medical Clinic, Grass Valley Host Lions Club, Calvary Bible Church, Gold Flat Firefighters Association, Music in the Mountains, Anew Day and AnimalSave, to name just a few.

With that, elephant opponents now face a conundrum: Is the “moral high ground” — however they define it — worth what it may cost the community as a whole? And can one support the fair and not Have Trunk, Will Travel?

We say: Boycott the elephant rides if you choose, but the fair is an event with hundreds of attractions, of which the elephant is but one. To boycott the county fair, which does so much for the community and economy, hurts the boycotter as well as the event being boycotted.

Don’t let one aspect ruin the perception of the fair, which has done so much good through the years. But if you have soured on the fair due to the elephant rides and you plan to picket, there will be a place for you. There will be “free expression zones” at Gate 1 and Gate 5, said Woods.

And if you plan to protest, remember rude behavior only undercuts your cause, and those who choose to attend the fair are your neighbors, clients and friends. On this issue, however, they just might not share your conviction.

This editorial reflects the opinions of The Union’s editorial board, which is comprised of members of The Union staff and informed members of the community.

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