The Kentucky State Fair Board and Kentucky State Parks will stop selling Confederate flags in gift shops and at future events, officials said Thursday.
The fair board voted Thursday to "strongly discourage" the sale of Confederate flags at this year's State Fair and ban them at future events following a request the board received in June from the Louisville NAACP, fair board spokeswoman Amanda Storment said.
The ban will include the 2016 Kentucky State Fair, the National Farm Machinery Show and the North American International Livestock Exposition, all of which are owned and produced by the fair board.
In addition, future contracts for rental space at the Exposition Center will ban the sales.
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In the state park system, the policy change will primarily affect gift shops at three historic sites operated by the state that are directly connected to the Civil War.
The gift shops at Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site in Boyle County, Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Todd County and Columbus-Belmont State Park in Hickman County have sold Confederate battle flags or items decorated with the flag, such as T-shirts or hats, spokesman Gil Lawson said.
The decision to end sales of the flags was related directly to last month's shooting in Charleston, S.C., where a gunman fatally shot nine black people at a church. The accused shooter, Dylann Roof, was seen in videos brandishing the flag and identifying himself with the white supremacist movement.
Shortly afterward, the South Carolina legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from flying on the grounds of its Capitol.
The National Parks system has since decided to remove Confederate flags from its gift shops.
Kentucky's new policy will apply to future contracts with people and organizations that provide services or rent facilities at state parks.
"We heard from some people that the flag is offensive to people, and we were aware some retailers have stopped selling them," Lawson said. "We want to be welcoming to all our guests, and we took that into account."
Confederate flags will remain in state park museums and exhibits, and they will be a part of the Civil War re-enactment in Perryville in October, Lawson said.
"We are not changing anything about historical interpretation or the museums; we're strictly talking about what we're selling in gift shops," he said.
Since the Charleston shooting, Kentucky lawmakers have debated whether a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, should be removed from the Capitol Rotunda and placed in a museum because he fought to keep slavery legal. Moving the statue to the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort or Davis' birthplace at the state site in Fairview have been mentioned as possibilities.
The 14-member Historic Properties Advisory Commission is taking public comments on the statue through Wednesday. The commission, which does not include any black members, is scheduled to meet Aug. 5.
In response, the Kentucky chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans has organized a "Southern Heritage Rally" at 11 a.m. Friday on the front steps of the Capitol to defend the Confederate flag and Jefferson Davis statue.