The general understanding concerning politics at the Crawford County Fair is all political booths are under the main grandstand.
And those booths were for political parties only, with Republican and Democrat parties having booths at opposite ends underneath the grandstand.
Elected state legislators — regardless of party — are permitted to have individual booths, but only to disseminate state government literature and information.
And while there might be a general understanding or “unwritten” rule concerning the issue, there appears to be no written rule or policy on the books.
The issue came to a head earlier this week at a Crawford County Fair Board meeting.
Representatives from the Committee to Elect Fratus Sheriff and Fair Districts PA were asked to attend Monday's meeting by Fair Board President Bill Winters.
Representatives of the group were concerned they were going to be asked to leave the fairgrounds.
Brian Cagle of the Committee to Elect Fratus Sheriff told the Fair Board it would have to get a court order to get the Fratus campaign to remove its booth from Home Show Building No. 1. Cagle cited the fact there was a signed and approved contract with the Fair Board.
Cagle also pointed out the booth has complied with all regulations.
Rules for vendors listed on the fair's official website require each vendor "to be confined to their space and are not permitted to distribute information or product throughout the fairgrounds. Further, no vendor’s employees, agents or agents acting on behalf of the vendor, shall be permitted to carry banners, wear costumes, or carry signs outside their own vendor space."
The rules also state "Literature is prohibited from being placed anywhere on the grounds, including but not limited to car windshields, bathrooms, poles, fences and buildings."
During the public meeting, Winters admitted issuing the contract to Fratus' campaign was a mistake.
We disagree with that assessment.
In our eyes, there's a difference between an "unwritten" rule and an actual rule. If there are no rules on the books prohibiting the practice, then issuing the contract was the right thing to do. We hope other groups weren't turned away and given incorrect information.
We are glad to see the board honored its contract with the two groups. It would have been unfortunate to see the situation escalate and spill over into the courts.
We’re glad the Fair Board said it will review all of its rules. The board needs to make it abundantly clear what its official policies are and people need to be able to easily find them.
Gray areas like "past practices" need to be eliminated altogether so a situation like this doesn't happen again.