I’ve had an ongoing issue with the North Carolina Mountain State Fair for the last three years. After 18 years with no dress code sign or any specific rules about how people are supposed to dress at the fair, in 2011 they erected a large “Shirt and Shoes Required” sign at their gate.
As a full-time “barefooter,” I was a little taken aback. I contacted the fair director, who stated that since Asheville had had its first female go-topless rally a few weeks before, fair officials were concerned about women showing up at the fair with bare breasts. As to why they added the “shoes” part, I never got a definitive answer other than some vague reference to safety, though there had never been an issue or incident related to bare feet during the previous 18 years.
I discussed this issue at the time in two letters to Mountain Xpress, which appeared in the Sept. 21, 2011, print edition and can be found online at avl.mx/0ga and avl.mx/0gb.
In the meantime, the fair director told me that, in spite of the sign, I would always be welcome at the fair while barefoot, and I have attended every year since then.
I never cared much for being an exception and really wanted that sign removed, as I felt it was not only unnecessary, but a very unwelcoming insult to anyone who chose my lifestyle. So, at the fair director’s suggestion, I contacted the N.C. Department of Agriculture attorney in Raleigh to request the sign be removed.
The response I got back was not only a curt refusal to remove the sign, but I was informed that I was no longer welcome at the fair in my usual mode of dress, barefoot, and the reason given for that decision was only: “Now that the issue has been raised. …”
I see this as much more vindictive than logical.