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Confederate flags fly at Western Week event
by Jason Collins
Oct 30, 2013 | 60 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Donnie Schmidt, barbecuer with the Hole in the Wall Gang
Donnie Schmidt, barbecuer with the Hole in the Wall Gang
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BEEVILLE – County leaders stating that the ban on the Confederate flag was a misunderstanding seemed to quell much of the public outcry.

But not all.

A few flags could be seen on booths at Western Week and in the barbecue competition area.

Nick Bauer, who owns Beeville Armory, was one of those who flew the flag at his barbecue area “to express our support of your constitutional rights...

“I don’t care if you don’t believe what we believe or I don’t believe what you believe.

“You have the right to believe that in this county.

“You have the right to express it, and that is why we fly the flag.”

The controversy was initially sparked because of a Confederate battle flag being flown on the Expo Center flagpole during the Western Week barbecue cook-off.

Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez brought it to the attention of the other county leaders, saying that he had received a complaint about it.

By a vote of three to two, the court issued a ban on the flag’s being flown on the property.

“Bee County commissioners and/ or Expo Center management reserves the right to reject any offensive language or displays, including the Confederate flag, or other offensive flags, banners, posters, signs, etc., that it feels are inappropriate or offensive and will not (be) permitted to be displayed at any part of the Expo grounds during any and all events,” the new clause in the Expo Center rental agreement reads.

About two weeks ago, commissioners said that they never meant for this to be an all-out ban on the Confederate flag. Instead, they only meant on the flagpole owned by the county.

Commissioner Carlos Salazar said during that meeting, “All this court meant... when we said we wanted to restrict the Confederacy battle flag is on our flagpole.

“If you have a stand out there... you can fly any flag you want to.”

Kirk D. Lyons, with Southern Legal Resource Center, said that the language in the contract still needs to be changed.

In a letter to the editor, he writes, “But, happy as we are with the outcome of this serendipitous event, the illegal Expo contract language remains on the books.”

Donnie Schmidt, barbecuer with the Hole in the Wall Gang, said that he has been participating in the cooking competition as part of Western Week for years. It was his group that hoisted the flag which sparked the issue.

“I was recruited here back in the ’80s to take the flag down and put the flag up. I did it as a favor to the people running this thing,” he said. “We have been doing it ever since.”

Even prior to the meeting that banned the flag, Schmidt said that he agreed to discontinue the group’s tradition.

“It is that tradition that has been carried on since the ’70s when this thing (once known as the ‘South’s Gonna Rise Again Chili Cook-off’) started, and we continued it,” he said.

“(Someone) decided it ought not be here.

“So, when they called me, and I said, ‘You people live there. You tell me want you want me to do, and I will do it.’”

It could have ended there as the flag was not going to be raised, but it didn’t.
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