Pritzker Defends Decision To Drop Band From Du Quoin State Fair Lineup

Jul 10, 2019

Confederate Railroad during a performance
Credit Confederate Railroad official website

The band Confederate Railroad will play southern Illinois after all.  Just not at the Du Quoin State Fair.  

A motorcycle dealership in nearby Marion has booked the band for a show in September - just a few days after the fair is scheduled to end.   Black Diamond Harley Davidson will host the performance on September 5.

After first being signed to appear on the fair’s grandstand stage, the Pritzker Administration pulled the plug over the southern rock band’s use of the confederate flag in its logo. 

At an unrelated event in Chicago Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about the controversy. 

"The Confederate flag is a symbol of not just slavery, but of treason against the United States," he said. "It is today the symbol of racists, of white nationalists, of the alt-right and so I do not think that the state of Illinois should be sponsoring something that is amplifying that symbol.”

Pritzker was also asked Wednesday about some calling for the state to cancel a show at the State Fair in Springfield featuring rapper Snoop Dogg.  They point out lyrics and imagery the rapper uses, including an image of him standing over a dead body with a toe tag identifying President Donald Trump.  Pritzker salled that "political satire" and said there is a big difference between that and the history of the Confederate flag. 

The move to cancel the Du Quoin show prompted a local outcry of censorship – and caught the attention of conservative media across the country.   There are also calls for a fair boycott. A Facebook page urging people to skip the event has nearly 5,000 followers as of Wednesday.   

"It's possible people are piling into this Facebook group from outside the region," said Southern Illinois reporter Gabriel Neely-Streit, who has written about the controversy.  "But I've spent a good amount of time on it for my reporting and I think there are a lot of (local) people in it and people who want to make their opinion felt in Springfield."

He points out there is a potential danger boycotting a fair that has already seen attendance slide in recent years.  "It's widely regarded down here to be in pretty dire financial straits that people worry it might disappear someday, which would be unfortunate because it's a pretty big economic driver for a small town and a region that needs it."

Confederate Railroad has been a national touring act since the early 90’s.  The lead singer of the band, Danny Shirley, issued a press release after the cancellation of the fair performance.  

“This was very disappointing as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much," he said.  

The band also sent out a  statement about the new show, saying members are grateful for fan support.  

The Du Quoin State Fair runs from August 23-September 2.