Topless-protest paranoia spreads to Mountain State Fair

As someone who goes barefoot 24/7, and who has attended the N.C. Mountain State Fair barefoot for many years, I was shocked a few days ago to find several very large signs with big red letters at the gates stating, "Shirt and shoes required."

The next day I contacted the fair manager, Matt Buchanan, to ask what was going on. He called me later and left a phone message in which he stated (his exact words), "Actually, the reason we put those signs there, I had many concerned parents after the demonstration that we had in Asheville a couple of weeks ago with the women going shirtless, and we do consider this a family event, and we had people concerned about that."

I find this justification so ridiculous it's almost laughable. First, the "demonstration" he spoke about was a one-time thing that took place simultaneously with similar rallies in 11 other cities around the country. The chances of something similar taking place around here again in the foreseeable future are practically zero.

Second, if their concern is fear of women taking their tops off at the fair, why doesn't the sign read, "Women required to keep their tops on at all times"? Or simply, "Shirts required." What do shoes have to do with it? Wearing shoes or not wearing shoes has absolutely nothing to do with wearing or not wearing a shirt or top. And wearing shoes has never been a rule or an issue at the fair before.

And third, do they really think that if another topless demonstration were to be organized around here and if they decided to do it at the fair, the mere presence of a sign would stop them? Not likely.

This is a case of total overkill. The fair management has let a few misinformed parents with very irrational fears cause them to make a very irrational decision. They've not only taken away the rights and freedom of choice of innocent fairgoers who have absolutely nothing to do with topless women, the new signs are of no practical value anyway for the perceived "problem."

— Kriss Sands
Mars Hill


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

9 thoughts on “Topless-protest paranoia spreads to Mountain State Fair

  1. JR

    Sometimes the world doesn’t conform to us, we must conform to the world. It’s good to have options and not be so rigid. Why not get a pair of shoes for say, those times when you want to dress to impress? I wondering if you actually work anywhere? I’m not familiar with any employment that lets an employee delete shoes, except for maybe stomping grapes in southern France at harvest time. But I could just be old-fashioned.

  2. Kriss

    JR, I understand what you’re saying, but it’s possible you missed the main point of my letter. And that was that the fair had no real logical or rational reason to post such signs. The “shirts” part was a knee-jerk reaction to some ridiculous grandstanding by a few politicians that resulted in scaring a few parents into believing there was some kind of female topless conspiracy and revolution suddenly sweeping our local countryside, and the NC Mountain State Fair was next in their sights as a place to embarrass and shock innocent families with children.

    That part was bad enough, but the fair management, in their misplaced zeal to “do something” about this potential big problem, for some reason felt it simply would not do to merely require shirts (and by not specifying the gender that they were trying to control, they included innocent males in this mindless frenzy), they added “shoes” as well, which makes no sense at all. The ONLY reason they included “shoes” was because they’ve likely seen a few signs here and there with similar alliterative wording requiring both garments of clothing – it never occurring to them that wearing or not wearing shoes has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with wearing or not wearing shirts or tops. And that shoes or no shoes has nothing whatsoever to do with the potential problem of some woman getting topless.

    As to your question about where I might work, luckily I’m retired and have been so for some 8 years. And yes, sometimes people do have to make hard choices, such as whether to enjoy the comfort and health benefits of going barefoot regularly or be able to earn a living and support a family. I did have to wear shoes when I was working, and over the years they damaged my feet so much that I needed several surgeries. After considerable research into all aspects going without shoes, I made the choice to never wear them again. And I’ve never regretted that decision, despite some of the ignorance and myth that I sometimes have to deal with from a few misinformed or downright bigoted people I occasionally run into. Luckily that’s not very often, as most people are respectful of others’ choices to dress in an unconventional way.

    • Kriss

      What is “really OK”? I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about.

  3. to

    They serve food. Health Department requires – shirt and shoes required – just like restaurant.

  4. Kriss

    “They serve food. Health Department requires – shirt and shoes required – just like restaurant.”

    I’m not sure if you seriously believe that or not, or if you’re just a troll trying to get some kind of strong reaction here. In any case, I’ll assume the former, since this is indeed a good example of the ignorance and myth I mentioned above.

    NO health department has any rule, regulation, or any other type of requirement related to what a customer wears or doesn’t wear in a restaurant or any other business or public facility, whether they “serve food” or not.

  5. Betty Cloer Wallace

    The state-run ABC stores have signs on their doors saying SHIRT AND SHOES REQUIRED. What could be their rationale?

    • Kriss

      I haven’t seen such a sign on ABC stores. Of course, I haven’t seen all of them. Where specifically have you seen such a sign on an ABC store?

  6. Paul

    Regarding JR’s statement above, “I’m not familiar with any employment that lets an employee delete shoes”, I find it all the time. I’m in high-tech and have worked at plenty of companies who don’t care whether or not I’m wearing shoes. They’re not paying me to dress a certain way, they’re paying me to make them money. As long as I keep doing that, they don’t care what I’m wearing as long as it doesn’t interfere with them making money. I’m at work right now, not wearing shoes, as I haven’t been for several years now.

    And to Betty, just because a store puts a sticker on their window doesn’t it make it a law it makes it a dress code for that particular establishment. Any private establishment is allowed to make any requirements they like no matter how ridiculous they want to be. For example, Gentleman’s Clubs exclude women. Some restaurants require shirt, tie, and jackets for men, etc.

    Interestingly though, if the state health department itself does not require a dress code for public places, which they don’t of patrons, the State run ABC stores are actually in violation of your rights by placing that dress-code requirement on their windows. The State can not mandate something which is not a law. There is no law requiring shoes, therefore they can not enforce a requirement that they be worn in a public (read taxpayer supported) place.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.