In 2011, after 17 years of treating all attendees with friendliness, dignity and respect, the N.C. Mountain State Fair installed a large sign at its gate reading, “Shirt and Shoes Required.” The reason for this unwelcoming sign, as I found out later, was as absurd as anyone could possibly imagine.
When I inquired about why such a sign was installed, Matt Buchanan, the fair director, told me it was because they feared the recent “Go Topless Rally” in Asheville would influence women to come to the fair topless. (I still have his answer recorded from my answering machine.) …
To add a shoe requirement, for no good reason, to a shirt requirement that had a ridiculous reason, made no logical sense whatsoever.
In this time of the continued COVID pandemic, a business or public facility requiring a mask to be worn makes perfect logical sense, because such a requirement is based on legitimate scientific and medical reasons: helping prevent the spread of a deadly virus. Yet, inexplicably, the fair does not require anyone to wear a mask.
Requiring shoes to be worn at such places — especially a public facility run by the state — has no logical scientific, medical or even legal basis and can only be based on the arbitrary personal prejudices and/or ignorance of those in control of such facilities.
As a person who lives barefoot for medical and other reasons, the continued current arbitrary and unnecessary dress code sign prevents me from attending the fair, but I had with no problems being barefoot there during the many years prior to the sign being posted.
This is a callous disregard of the rights of individuals to make harmless freewill choices of their lifestyle and/or personal attire.
I wrote an article awhile back about this situation and my ongoing efforts to resolve it, which you can see here: [avl.mx/agh].
— Kriss Sands
Editor’s note: Previous letters to the editor on the topic, published in 2011, “Topless-protest Paranoia Spreads to Mountain State Fair” and “‘Shoes Required’ Is About Safety, Not ‘Topless Paranoia’” can be found at mountainx.com. In addition, WLOS reported that this year, fair officials requested mask-wearing indoors and social distancing; installed hand-sanitizing stations; and made masks and temperature checks available.