Frederick fair officials spurn Klan KKK car at race touched off furor

October 05, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Great Frederick Fair officials denounced last night any affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, nearly two weeks after allowing a KKK car bearing racist slogans and symbols to participate in a demolition derby.

"The board of directors . . . denounces its affiliation with any organization that expresses any principle that offends or [is repulsive] where an individual's race, color or creed are involved or affected," the board's attorney, W. Jerome Offutt, said in a statement.

Fair officials promised to issue such a statement after their decision allowing the car -- also decorated with a white-painted traffic cone on the roof -- to take part in the event, prompting an uproar from local civil rights groups.

About 40 representatives from state and local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People boycotted and picketed the fair Sept. 24, three days after the demolition derby in which the controversial car owned by Donald Toms, a Thurmont mechanic who said he was a KKK member, was among the top finishers in one of the heats.

The board was meeting last night with Frederick County NAACP members to draft language that would prohibit a recurrence in the fair's future contracts with vendors, said James S. Grimes, a Frederick mayoral candidate and president of the Frederick County Agricultural Society, which runs the annual fair. The 131-year-old fair attracts about 200,000 people each year.

Mr. Grimes said he hoped the statement would satisfy Concerned Citizens for Racial Justice, a Frederick County watchdog group.

An NAACP official said earlier that "fair officers have a moral responsibility to make the right choices."

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